In early January during a particularly cold spell, Joanne and I drove home from Minneapolis, taking a scenic and slower route along the upper Mississippi River rather than the interstate. The river was frozen over, and visible life seemed on hold. The ice was thick enough (well over 12 inches) to hold the trucks and tents of ice fishermen that periodically dotted the surface, but there was no movement. It seemed strange that the “Father of Waters” could be held up on its journey south.
Then suddenly, the river opened up and the water, at least along one bank, flowed freely. A swifter tributary, the Chippewa River, had entered the stream and the faster flow kept ice from forming. In this open water, we found many thousands of ducks and several dozen stately Trumpeter swans, all taking advantage of the relative warmth. Over-wintering Bald Eagles kept watch from the trees on the shore, biding their time for a hunt. It was a welcome sight of natural life in an otherwise stilled and chilled landscape.
As we examine ourselves during this Lenten season, it’s fair to ask if there are parts of our hearts or minds that might have frozen over because we have been overly focused on our own needs. As we raise our personal defensives against the hurts in our own lives, have we built up too thick a layer of ice to keep us from recognizing the hurt in others? What might it take to drill through? Can we find the Holy Spirit running fast enough to melt our hearts, to open us up to the needs of others within our community?