Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Epiphany on Ice

I wrote this two years ago. It fits my life now so well, it appears to be prophetic. I can't resist sharing it with you . . .

December 10, 2007

The most meaningful moments of my life come upon me unexpectedly -- almost never at the "big" events where I look for them. Today, I had one.

Yesterday was a grind. We were kept inside by the winter weather once again -- very depressing for someone whose primary outing is a walk outside. But I rallied by getting things done. I finished decorating the tree. This had become an unpleasant task after three sets of lights on the tree went out. Up and down the ladder, back and forth with the mess, alone in a task that was getting more annoying with each effort to complete it. The job should have lasted a weekend but had already taken nine days, and now it felt especially difficult because tears were just under the surface. The tree decorating added to the gray feelings that have plagued me all fall. It's a long story, but suffice it to say that there have been too many delicate relational issues to navigate this year and too many disappointments that have crashed in on my shores.

Once the tree was done, it was time for paying the bills. This job makes me tense and requires that I keep a firm grip on my emotions. Just the facts, just get the job done, don't feel -- just do it, I kept saying to myself. I was grateful to finish, even though it took way too long (like the tree decorating) and left my head feeling woozy.

As soon as I had finished with the bills, I noticed the rain. No. I noticed that it was 30 degrees and raining. Ice was immediately evident. I jumped into action to prepare for a power outage. Once this was done, I spent the rest of the evening shopping online, the most pleasant thing I did all day. But still I felt cheerless. Just the facts, just get the job done, don't feel -- just do it. Don't think too much about the people. Just do the needed task. Time is the issue here, not feelings.

We awoke to an icy world the next morning, but we still had power. After a moment of thanks, I slipped into my routine tasks for the day, and it passed in a blur. Late afternoon found us outside, scraping thick ice off the driveway and sidewalk. More of the grind of life. Don't feel, just do it -- just get the job done. My son went inside and left me to sprinkle salt on the pavement. By now, it was twilight in the woods. I was nearly finished with my chore when a sweep of memories washed over me. I caught my breath.

Then I noticed it. The beauty around me -- the trees glistening silver with ice, the pretty house against the snow with candles in the windows, the smell of wood smoke perfectly blended into the crisp winter air. There was a shift in my universe. I was lifted above the endless chores, the irritations, the disappointments, the relational tensions, and my feelings of doubt and inadequacy. I saw my life in a new way. I saw the labor of love which has been pleasing to God. I saw the sacrifices which fill his eyes with pride. I saw what we fought so hard to build and that nothing can take that from us -- that we did it. We beat the odds. We built a home of warmth and love and laughter against, and in spite of, the pressing darkness.

It came to me joyfully, solemnly, quietly, on the songs of little birds and the drip, drip, drip of icicles dangling like crystals from the storm, and it sang, "Christmas is here. Emmanuel. God is with us; Here, with us." God helped us to love as He loves and to build as He builds and to endure as he endures. He is with us and in us. In Him, we move and breathe and understand. This is Christmas.

It was fresh like morning, strong like a lion, jolly like an elf, and tender like a child -- all at once. Wood smoke and snow and greenery and crystals and songs and I standing there among it, with head bowed, drinking it in.

Hallelujah, Emmanuel.

Photograph, copyright 2009 by Benjamin Frear.


  1. wow - I'm still pondering this -- ever since I read it yesterday. Somehow it has reached my core. I'm sure I'll go back and read it again (and probably again!) Thank you.

  2. You described a lovely winter scene, a part of your life.... Beautiful. We all go through that, its just seeing the beauty of it that is hard to do. Take care of yourself. I hope its getting better for you.


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