Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A stretch of river VI: Ice (part 2)

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As I have said before, I am (still) fascinated by this thing called Cold, still being somewhat new to the experience. And what has especially fascinated me for the past week is the surface inconstancy of the river's frozen surface.

When I first announced the river's freezing over, we then entered a partial-thaw-daytimes-freeze-overnight period that would create new patterns on the ice. I'm not referring to that, wondrous to watch though that was. No, what I'm referring to was what I observed beginning last weekend, when we got our first substantial snow of the winter.

I had assumed that, once the river froze and was covered with snow, that gap between the banks would assume a nearly-level, uniform appearance and would stay like that till the next thaw came along. But no. Much to my surprise, even with a week's worth of subfreezing temperatures, a combination of wind and not-yet-frozen water lapping onto and underneath the ice and melting it and then itself re-freezing creates, each day, different patterns of flow and pockmarks and subsurface cracking that gives this ostensibly frozen surface a profoundly liquid quality, as changeable, in its own way, as the unthawed river is. It's as though the ice's surface reminds us that, beneath, the river is not dormant or even in hiding or just biding its time. It is There, like God is.

It is something I would not have seen, much less thought about, if not for the daily walks, the daily looking and watching . . . and the writing about it that pushed these ideas to the surface.

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Ariel said...

I really like this. And I think the metaphor is excellent.

That last paragraph subtly draws it out:

"It is something I would not have seen, much less thought about, if not for the daily walks, the daily looking and watching . . ."

Icy rivers and divine silences can be that way.

John B. said...

A belated thanks. It literally was while I was writing the post that I realized what I was really writing about . . . thus, even the daily, patient observation might not be enough to hear/see God at work; at times, it's not until we try to articulate what we observe during that time of watchfulness that we hear/see it/Him.

It is not when we merely say that Jesus came to us in human form at Christmas time, but when we actually try to TALK about that that the wonder of Christmas reveals itself.