In the Ice

When freezing rain moved through in mid-January, it covered the trees and bushes with ice. The crabapple tree in my front yard still has a few fruits, not yet eaten by the birds, and they glistened through the ice like red jewels.

The ice-coated crabapples are like the soul that is frozen in grief or despair. Ice covers the fruit, stems, twigs, and branches, isolating them from the winter air, just as suffering isolates the spirit from joy and comfort. But the beauty of the soul is still visible. The fruit survives and will become food that sustains life. Within the fruit are the seeds that will grow into new life. The crabapple waits. Spring will come.

We are all connected to everything that is, even when we can’t feel it or even perceive it. We all have times of ice, times when we feel disconnected and paralyzed. But the Spirit of light and life is with us, even when we don’t believe it exists. The ice will melt.


Hanging On

There are times in our lives when all we can do is hang on – and when hanging on takes all we have in us.  The death of a child or a spouse is one of those times.  The unexpected end of a career is one of those times.  The death of a marriage or other important relationship is one of those times.  And in such times, all we have is what we have left.  And we don’t know that that is enough.

As we work through the disbelief, the anger, the hurt, the grieving, we may think we know what we need – escape, oblivion, retaliation, vengeance, something to get us through and out the other side as painlessly as possible.  But it’s not a matter of what we think we need.  It’s a matter of what God knows we need.

What we have is what is left after loss.  We have the love that is still with us, even though it may not be the love we thought we couldn’t live without.  And the love we have – love of friends, family, colleagues – God’s love, above all — is enough, even when we don’t believe it is.

The work we have to do has to be done.  The grieving.  The working through anger.  The acceptance of broken hopes, abandoned expectations, a changed texture to our daily lives, a diminished reality, a loss of identity.  It’s all there.  It’s all real.  Our task is to work through it all.  And if we allow God to use the dreadful, dismal, overwhelming experience, we come through it all and we are transformed.  And we find out who we really are.

The important thing is the hanging on.  One day at a time.  One step at a time.  When we can’t find hope to hang on to, or a sense of purpose, or any joy at all, what is it that we hang on to?  God.  It’s that simple.  And that difficult.