All those broken trees, maimed or outright killed beneath that weight of beautiful novelty spring snow (just two weeks back)… they remind me of The Ice Storm — monstrous, momentous event that pivoted my life-thinking right-way-’round. Biggest ice storm I ever encountered. Or drove — madness on two-inch-thick slush-freeze.
A hundred feet down the road from my driveway, tense, I called myself crazy, started looking for a turn-around place.
…But God had said go, it had certainly seemed. And the previous night’s tires through rain-and-snow glop had left a ragged fast-frozen groove from which I now could not easily escape.
So on I drove. And prayed… first for a turn-around, somehow, and safe return home. Then, at last, with realization, and a sigh:
“Well, Lord, if you want me there, You’ll get me there…”
And I continued on…
And suddenly it got easy: On without incident, slip, slide, or crash, through an Ice World dream, a crystal whitened Dali painting kind of world, coated everywhere: lawns, driveways, trees, signs, houses, and parked cars — anything bendable bowed down, doubled-over humble, contorted, looking melted inside a hard cold crust.
Roadside trees joined hands overhead, forming great iced-branch tunnels, and I traveled through.
Ice all around mirrored sunlight’s glare, dazzling my eyes till they watered and blurred…
And every now and then I could hear it: A “Cr-ack!” Another branch breaking beneath its burden. And in the light my thoughts turned dark, as they’d been running of late.
Bitter near-despair had been weighing on my heart, and seemingly on my whole body. I felt grotesquely bent like those trees imprisoned in frozen wash, distorted and breaking and maybe marred forever.
“This whole rolling scene, it’s like my life,” I murmured within myself, “All sparkly-shiny on the outside, but bent and broken and crippled inside.” So ran my thoughts as I pulled into the unplowed parking lot, and my tires crunched through the snow’s ice crust, making me wonder if I’d get out later.
I parked. I sat. All alone in an empty lot. Was the door up there, at the top of those slippery steps even unlocked?
“You wanted me to come here, Lord?”
Oh, well. I’d give it a try. And so I emerged from my shell, slip-slid my way up to the entrance, and… yes. It opened. I went in and sat.
And in the silence I perceived the Presence that is everywhere, unseen. And the sense that yes, I was meant to be here this day, even if no one else showed up, if only for this peace, which I so badly needed.
Soon one or two trickled in, then another few. Of what we shared I remember little. But what I do remember changed my world.
“I love the snow!” the woman declared — the woman who’d managed to slip-slide-walk from up the highway, the woman from whom tragic death had recently stolen a son. She paused. Her eyes were glowing. “I know that trees are getting damaged. But, oh, it is so beautiful!”
She paused again, then added, “We all have ice storms in our lives. It’s just interesting to see what different people do with theirs.”
My own thoughts, turned topsy-turvy! Like they needed to be.
That I remember full well. That, and what one other said later: “Few came today, but those who did, came because they needed to. And they received what they needed.” And how could that one know?
Driving home later (yes, I got out of the parking lot), I gazed again on a still hard, still dazzling ice world, and thought again, “It’s like my life,” but in a different way: Now even the bending and breaking held beauty, and I drank in all the weird wonder. Now I noticed. Light play shimmered and sparkled off every contour it glided over, fragmenting light into an aurora borealis of delicate colors. Even those contorted branches whose shape I’d judged grotesque, took on a form of grace, like a ballet of nature frozen in time. Fantasy beauty like I’d never seen — and never have seen since.
That was many years ago. My own ice storm then had a name, once I’d identified it: alcoholic marriage. Other storms since, come and gone, had different names. But each brought echoes of that woman’s words, and glimpses of beauty I’d never otherwise have seen. And each brought me ultimately closer to the One Who made all the beauty.
May you find beauty, peace, and joy in all your varied ice storms.
Thanking God, with Ann at A Holy Experience, truly, if unbelievably, for the ice storms in my life:
~For the alcoholic marriage that brought this unbelieving by-your-bootstraps do-it-yourselfer to her knees, to her needed point of helplessness, and made her finally put her trust in Him instead of self.
~For the shattering of that marriage, and the standing bereft and holding the bag, empty of things needful for feeding and clothing and sheltering a child — furthering that dependence on God, and giving me opportunity to see many wonders of Providence.
~ For the joy of knowing the alcoholic came to saving faith in Christ before he died.
~ For the astonishing privilege of being the one to lead Him to it.
~ For the trials of step-family living, in a hodge-podge lodge of wounded souls all, and seeing God’s hand in every life.
~ For the pain of the prodigal’s parent, sharing the pain of our Father, as expressed in Isaiah 1.
~ For the pain a parent undergoes, watching another grown son’s divorce pull him down in its undertow — in some ways more pang-filled than what I experienced in my own.
~For watching, in admiration, difficult integrity lived out, and a life in Christ grown by leaps and bounds.
~ For the deeper bonding of those late-night talks when all was dark.
~ For disappointment in the family of God
~ For the end of ministries and “friendships” in a church that shockingly proved abusive, reminding me that it’s God Who’s my source, not man, nor groups of humans, even those who call themselves “church.”
~ For more past “ice storms” not mentioned here.
~ For present ”ice storms,” even now in Merry May.
~ For “ice storms” to come, should there still be more, before His coming. For all those trials are training grounds for patience and God-dependence and joy, Just like James 1 says.
~ That I’ve never met a figurative ice storm whose good and beauty I couldn’t see eventually.