Here we are in chapter two of the Winter of 2019 story. Again we canceled meeting for worship–two weeks in a row!–this time because of ice, wind, and dangerous cold. (It is on it’s way to a low of -10 tonight.)
So this post is a reflection in lieu of a longer weekly message. Ice has been on my mind. Ice and the way it encases things, making things rigid that aren’t meant to be. Ice that is a non-forgiving surface for old bones, repaired knees, and inexperienced drivers.
Ice can also be beautiful, magical, reflecting and magnifying light and giving the appearance of diamonds sparkling on bare tree branches. How it appears to us–inspiring and lovely, or threatening and dangerous–depends on where we are in life and what we’re thinking at the moment. If we’re safe and warm in our homes, looking out the window at the cold with a cup of hot chocolate in our hands, the ice may be beautiful. If we’re outside in it, without the protection of warmth and light, ice can be a risk to our well-being.
Years ago I was interviewing a family therapist for a book I was writing, and she used ice to describe how important it was for us to be flexible and resilient in our lives. She said generally, most of us take things in stride pretty well. We adapt to change, we adjust our thinking, we sway like the branch of a tree being moved about by the wind. You can picture that…there’s a grace in the easy, natural movement and it serves the tree well, enabling it to adjust and play with the forces surrounding it.
But sometimes in life–perhaps after major disappointments, difficulties, or a time of grief–we begin unthinkingly to resist those forces of life that blow us about. We can go a little rigid, resisting the change, pushing back. She said this is like a tree after a big ice storm. Now the branches are encased in ice and if a strong wind comes along, instead of being able to move and dance with the breeze, tree limbs are in danger of snapping off and falling to the ground.
I’ve noticed in myself, as I get older, that there are times when I resist the sway more than I used to. I like things the way I like them. The quiet is nurturing. The warmth is comforting. I’m less likely to put on my cross-country skiis (which–confession–I’ve used only once!) and try something new. I remind myself that swaying with the breeze–even if that breeze is -10–is part of staying engaged and alive and healthy.
Engaging and staying open to life stirs up gratitude in our hearts and helps us remember that God, who brings the sun and the ice and the grace that melts it, has a good plan for our lives. We just need to be willing to live them, appreciate them, share them.
So perhaps a good Quaker query for us to consider this week, as we wait for Tuesday’s rain to come melt away all this frigidness, is this: Where in my life might I be resisting something new God wants to share?
Spring is coming, after all. Let’s do our stretching now so we’re ready for it.
Peace and blessings on your week!