Sno-Castle

How sweet are your promises to my taste, more than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103 WEB)

When I was a child I loved to eat snow cones. First, a paper cone or cup was filled to the brim with shaved ice. Next a scoop of shaved ice was plopped on top for a beautiful round summit. Finally, fruit flavored sugar syrup was pumped all over the ice to add color and flavor. It didn’t take much to make but I loved it as a treat.

I’m not supposed to eat all that sugar stuff anymore but will occasionally indulge my sweet tooth. On furlough, one of our supporting churches provided us a house for several months. It was a great time to refresh our spirits, rest and collect our thoughts. (I always thought that phrase sounded like thoughts were scatter on the floor.) Lots of time was available for prayer and seeking God’s continued direction.

I just can’t pray or reflect eighteen hours a day. (I do sleep about eight hours a day and take no credit for my mental attitude while I’m oblivious to the world.) There are breaks for meals, reading, talking with my wife and the occasional visitor. You don’t get many visitors when no one knows where you’re living.

2006_07_27_snocastle_-001Sometimes, I’d take a break, sit on the front stoop, (for the younger reader, that’s a front porch step) and watch cars whiz past. It’s a short street but some folks can get up quite a head of steam. Following the course of a car down the street my attention was drawn to a lot, just caddy cornered across the intersection from the church.

In this triangular parking lot formed by three cross streets sat a white, container sized building. The top was decorated with a castle parapet facade and displayed the name, Sno-Castle. Each side had a window for serving customers shaved ice in a paper cone.

I’ve visited a few castles while living in Europe. Last count it was around 300+, including the occasional palace. None were as small, nor as popular as this little stand dedicated to the delight and fruity flavor of shaved ice.

It took a couple days to learn the box was only open in the afternoon and evening. I guess I could’ve walked up and read the sign, but that was too easy. It seemed so desolate sitting there throughout the morning, empty of people and forlorn in the small parking lot. But once the young ladies showed up, flipped the signs from closed to open, then the place came alive.

The drooling begins as you walk up and read the menu. Like other cold confectionery shops you expect a wide variety of snow cones and ice cream. Nope, no such offering. They have Real Flavored Snow and that is the whole menu. Over 120 flavors with some special names. That is an entire summer of experimentation and sweet joy.

You can start with the Prince size then work up through the Queen, and King size. One Wednesday, after prayer meeting, Beth and I wandered over for our first treat. Young and old sat around the lot, on the guard rail, leaning against their cars and enjoyed the rainbow of colored ice. Children smiled and dribbled, adults smiled and slurped. Dress wasn’t important, culture wasn’t important, background wasn’t important, only the delicious, cold ice melting as it slid down their throats to cool them from the inside out.

We read through many of the flavors, some printed, some handwritten on the wall. I found banana, my favorite. Beth was more literate as she made here way to kiwi and strawberry. They would mix any flavors, two in the initial price, you wanted to try. You placed your order and waited.

The ice was ground in a machine you could hear working just out of sight. Your mouth started to water with anticipation. The cone was filled and that first bit of flavor was sloshed on the ice. Next, a funnel of ice was plopped on to make a pointy mountaintop. More syrup was poured to finish the construction. If you ordered two flavors they put them on opposite sides of the cone adding to the visual delight. Then they stuck in a spoon, and you were ready to enjoy.

That first taste of refreshing coolness with delightful fruit flavor was marvelous. You work through the mountain top into the cone. One feature of snow cones is the demonstration that gravity works. Much of the syrup oozes its way through the shaved ice to collect and over saturate the ice at the bottom of the cone. Working past the peak, into the bowl the sensational flavor increases as you go deeper.

Eating snow cones reminds me of growing in Christ. You take that first taste and wow, what a delight. But wait, as you dig deeper the delight increases more and more. Some folks eat the top of a snow cone and toss away the bottom. They don’t know what they’re missing. Some Christians skim the surface of their faith and fail to dig deep. They miss the overpowering wonder found only in the depths of the Christian life.

The Psalmist understood when he wrote, “O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalms 34:8 NASB) How deep are we tasting of the Lord’s wonder?

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