When you live in the midwestern United States, you get used to snow. Generally speaking, it snows all winter long. It starts with an occasional flurry in October. A Midwesterner knows that in all probability, your children are quite likely to need to wear a coat to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. This year there was a snowstorm across much of Michigan, so family and friends there stuck to indoor Trunk-or-Treating parties and events. The snow keeps coming all through the winter, well into April. And there’s no guarantee that there won’t be a freak snowstorm in May.
Ice storms are less frequent, but often produce spectacular results. When temperatures are on the edge of freezing and a storm blows through, it’s somewhere between rain and snow, and the ice coats everything. It makes for super dangerous driving, since the roads are literally covered with a sheet of ice. If you’re trapped at home and can’t drive anywhere until road crews can salt, and the sun warms everything enough to start melting, you might as well take a walk.
My daughter Jennifer, (who happened to be up visiting us in Michigan during an ice storm) and I went for a walk in the neighborhood. It was strangely quiet, since there were very few cars on the roads, and few people out in general. But every once in a while, we would hear a strange creaking noise, followed by a loud crack, and then a loud boom as a branch, heavily laden with ice broke off a tree and crashed to the ground.
As we walked along, we admired the strange, stark beauty of the thick coating of ice on the trees, shrubs, and plants in the neighborhood.
It was interesting to see how the thick layer of ice weighed the branches, leaves and berries down. Even thick branches arced down toward the ground. Once tall bushes looked much shorter, and any dead brown leaves still clinging, became frozen in place.
Do we become like that in our lives? Especially in our faith life? Somewhat frozen in place, sort of isolated?
Near others, but kind of stuck in our own little cluster?
If we look around, we can see the sun at work. Glistening and shining, melting the layers of ice, with light shining through the layer of ice that may be upon us. Maybe the path we’ve taken seems to be the end of a forking branch.
But you’re always connected to God’s family, and there is always another direction to go. God’s love is never-ending. The sun comes to melt away the ice, and His Son, Jesus, came to take away the sins of the world. No sin is too great, no sorrow too heavy if we hand it over to Jesus.
Even when we’re bent low with the weight of our troubles upon us, we can ask God for forgiveness, and look for a new path in life. We can pray and be strengthened. We can pray for others, whose burdens look heavy. We can lighten their load with every act of kindness we share. We can let God’s light shine through us, as we share the love of the Lord.
May you open your heart this advent season, and look with joy to the coming of the Lord, and sharing that joy with others.