When I was attending BYU, I took two New Testament courses from Camille Fronk Olsen, one of my favorite teachers. The people, places, and stories of the New Testament came alive in her class and I felt like I learned so much more about the context that the Savior lived in than I had ever known before.
One of my all time-favorite things she taught us was the actual Hebrew word used in the original Old Testament to refer to the atonement. The word was kaphar.
Its most literal translation into English is "a covering."
Kaphar was translated a few different ways into English. One of its translations, in reference to the tabernacle, became the mercy seat.
One of my favorite things about this word and knowing its original definition is that it brings a lot of color to so many phrases, both scriptural and in everyday usage. If I am going to do something that makes me nervous or scared, or so I go out on a limb somehow, I might have someone cover me. If I don't have enough money to pay for something, someone might offer to cover the expense for me.
Interesting, isn't it?
The scriptural phrases are just as interesting. A word search for cover shows some very interesting examples- as well as the difference between the Savior covering my sins and me wanting to do it myself. (Hint: If I try to do it myself, it doesn't work).
This is among the most beautiful imagery that I know. The Savior covers our sins for us because He knows that walking through life with a bunch of sins attached is like walking through life with a self-imposed handicap. A net drag, if you will. It's exhausting and it prevents one from doing all kinds of things- and prevents one from hearing a lot of the subtle direction given along the way about course changes and such. So He offers to cover us, so that we don't have to carry that burden.
I love the atonement. I love the feeling of being covered. I sometimes extend it mentally to include a covering like a warm blanket- a comforter, if you will- that not only covers my sins but also provides protection against a lot of the grit, grime, and winds that are out there. And it is the warmest, nicest comforter out there. Give it a try sometimes. I think you'll like it, too.