Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Great Ice Storm of 2015

The mild winters of which Southerners boast disappeared this February under inches of ice, snow, freezing rain, sleet, single digit temperatures, and a mysterious moniker called "wintry mix," which translated from the local dialect means "we have no idea what it is, but stay inside if you can."

I imagine that the people of Boston or Minnesota laugh at the turmoil a few inches of snow and ice create in the South.  But then again, Northerners balk about any kind of hardship that rivals their own, even among themselves.  In the North, bragging rights could be legalized as a sporting event. Incredible survival stories dominate most conversations in the winter, firmly enmeshed in a kind of "I can beat that" mindset, even from one side of town to the other. 

In the past couple weeks in Nashville, schools were closed due to snow and ice storms, and churches were opened, taking in anyone and everyone who needed a place to stay for the night. Newscasters urged listeners to check up on neighbors. Police combed the city for people living on the streets.  Southern hospitality prevailed, even in the crisis.  So many churches opened their doors, providing warm clothing, food and shelter that there was far more than needed.

Ice storms are not uncommon in the South, but they are almost always followed immediately by a warming spell.  And hence, when they happen, people just wait for the ice to pass in a day or two at most.  But this time, that did not happen.  Ice was followed by snow, sub-zero temps and even more ice, hard and thick and immovable. 

But today, a warm breeze blew into town.  It is not yet spring, but it is beginning to feel that way.  And that thick ice which was so destructive and impossible has finally begun to dissolve.  The great thaw has begun. The ice-jammed gutters, the slick roads, the ice covered driveways began to melt, drip by drip.

Just waiting for time and warmer temperatures to alleviate ice that is inches-thick might work with the weather.  But in life, time alone will not melt difficulties in relationships that have grown rock-hard over time. If anything, time and avoidance just add layer upon layer to volatile relationships.    

Only forgiveness can melt away resentment, bitterness and hardness of heart.  It doesn't happen all at once, but drip by drip.  How can I bring my own forgiving heart to this impossible relationship or situation?  Forgiveness does not mean an accusatory "I forgive you for doing that to me," nor condoning an action or condemning a person, but letting go of the bitterness and moving on.

In the midst of the winter storms, the public was warned to be prepared to venture into the bitter cold -- to dress warmly, carry a cell phone, blanket and food in their cars -- so that they would not be caught unawares if stranded.  Even so, we should go forth into icy-cold relationships prepared with kindness, forgiveness, healing, and compassion in our hearts, minds and hands.  How can I approach this differently?

If I want things to change,
     something has to be different.
And that would be me.

If a little melting can move a glacier, what can kindness do in our relationships?  Forgiveness changes my heart.  Forgiveness changes the landscape.

The ice is released one drip at a time, losing its grip and changing its very nature.  

The Bible does not talk about ice storms
but it tells the story of forgiveness
from beginning to end,
the steadfast love of the LORD
           and the softening of hearts.

Let the melting begin.

Above all hold unfailing
your love for one another,
since love covers
        a multitude of sins.

              1 Peter 4.8

Be kind to one another,
forgiving one another,
as God in Christ
                forgave you.

               Ephesians 4.32

No comments: