Tuesday, February 09, 2010

February Brings Icy Reality to an Intern's Awareness

Internship Journal, February 2010

By Scott Schul, Seminarian and Intern


“By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.”  Job 37:10


By now, I should be used to ice.  After all, I grew up in Kane.  Folks in Kane know what it’s like to live with ice.  And I lived many years in Maine, another place where winter and ice go hand-in-hand.  But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.  Perhaps you’re just as ready to be finished with ice as I am.  Maybe, like me, you’ve heard of too many people slipping and falling on ice.  Ice can be very dangerous.


Back in December, we had a Sunday here in Butler during which the roads were an absolute sheet of ice.  As I tried to navigate my car down our very steep driveway that morning, it was all I could do to wrestle it safely to the bottom of the incline without plowing sideways through the guardrails at the base of our street.  The drive to the church was just as hazardous.  What is usually a 10 minute commute took nearly an hour.  We spent about as much time in ditches as we did on the road.  I’m usually oblivious to the many dips, inclines and curves in the roads I use to get to church, but on that day the hazard that each such feature presented illuminated them better than a forty foot neon sign could have done. 


Fortunately, both my family and our car was undamaged by the “skate” we endured on the way to church that Sunday.  And, much to my surprise, I think some good came out of the ice too.  Now, each time I drive that oh-so-familiar route to church, I see it differently.  Now, that driveway at the crest of the hill on South Duffy is more than a driveway – I remember it as the safe haven that gave us a place to pull off as we waited for the salt truck to come through.  Now, those rocks that fill the ditch alongside the big curve near the old farm are more than rocks – they were like life preservers that provided traction for us on an otherwise glassy surface.  Indeed, my experience with that ice has made me more attentive to the multitude of little blessings and graces that so abundantly populate even the most mundane aspects of my life, like the route of my daily commute. 


One of the many marvelous and mysterious things about God is how the Creator manages to bring hope, insight, inspiration and redemption from circumstances that would otherwise be hopeless, painful and tragic.  In Jesus’ day, a cross was a tool of terror and execution.  But now, it is through a cross that we are saved.  It is through a cross that new life is available to us. 


Similarly, as that ice melts, it will become water that cleanses our roads and sidewalks…water that will provide us with life-sustaining hydration…water that will fill our baptismal fonts with the promise of a God who loves us and claims us even when we have nothing to offer in return.


And so I’m going to try to complain a little less about the ice from now on.  Somehow God manages to take the things of this world – even those things that seem to be beyond redemption – and transforms them into something beautiful and holy.  If God can do that with ice, just imagine the miracles God is working with us.  Now that’s something to celebrate!


Scott Schul

Vicar, Trinity Lutheran Church, Butler PA