Joyce Rupp | The Message of Melting Snow
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The Message of Melting Snow

The Message of Melting Snow

Here in Iowa the strong sunshine is melting our mountains of snow. Eventually, those
enormous mounds will become little hills, then tufts, and finally disappear altogether. I
have enjoyed this process every year and never cease to marvel at how a zillion ice
particles are converted into flowing streams and deep puddles. Our inner transformation 
follows a similar process. Unwanted features of our interior life change gradually. Those old
habits that feel like frozen mountains slowly dissolve a bit more every year. Sometimes
this change moves more quickly when we gain a startling glimpse of the nearness of
divinity. These clear-hearted, quickly here-and-gone peeks of a deeper reality serve to
assure and strengthen the human spirit, giving it a boost toward being our best selves.

In his autobiography, Benedictine monk Bede Griffiths describes what I consider to be “a
melting snow” event. As a schoolboy Griffiths was walking at dusk when he heard birds
singing and noticed hawthorn trees in full boom. All seemed so ordinary. Until it became
extraordinary. An intense feeling of awe came over him: “I felt inclined to kneel on the
ground, as though I had been standing in the presence of an angel; and I hardly dared to look
on the face of the sky, because it seemed as though it was but a veil before the face of God.”

This unfathomable sense of mystery and awe influenced Griffiths for the rest of his life. He
lived with simplicity and depth, encouraging others to be aware of the Holy One‘s
presence, to give one’s self fully to this profound relationship. Griffiths writes in his
autobiography, “Anything which breaks through the routine of daily life may be the bearer of
this message to the soul. But however it may be, it is as though a veil has been lifted and we
see for the first time behind the façade which the world has been built around us. Suddenly we
know we belong to another world, that there is another dimension to existence…”

How do we embrace these fleeting encounters with divinity and allow them to influence
our interior “melting snow” transformation? Elizabeth Leseur, a French laywoman living in
he early 1900s offers a way. “No one knows what passes in the profound depths of our soul.
To feel God near, to meditate, to pray, to gather all our deepest thoughts so as to reflect on
them more deeply: that is to live the inner life, and this inner life is the supreme joy of life. But
so many moving thoughts and ardent desires and generous resolutions should be translated
into deeds, for we are in the midst of human life and a great task lies before us. It is the time
for painful effort; one must … forsake the realm of thought for that of reality, face action,
know that one will either not be understood or be understood wrongly, and that one will
perhaps suffer at the hands of humanity for having willed the good of humanity.”

As we stir from our pandemic caves I feel somewhat like an old bear after a long winter,
stretching out of confinement and breathing fresh air, ready to move outward. I am
continuing my Lenten spiritual practice; honing my awareness of the Holy One’s presence;
renewing my trust that the “frozen snow” within me continues to melt; and expanding my
vision beyond myself to see what can be done for the good of humanity.  Perhaps you are
experiencing something similar and are joining in this endeavor, knowing there is little
doubt that at this time in our history a great task lies before us.

Abundant peace,
Joyce Rupp