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Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring: By Michael Halleen

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of people." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
> The ice on our lake will soon give way. It cannot stay much longer. It's that time of year in Minnesota when the angle of the sun has become more direct and its rays warmer. Lake ice is not pretty as it dies — gray, mottled, rough. But it's clear there is no hope for it now.

I like to think of the little problems and burdens I carry as lake ice in its last stages — unpleasant at the moment, but not long for this world. A woman shared her worries with me some time ago, and they were many. She seemed overwhelmed by minor aches, frets and cares. Mouth drawn, eyes sad, voice cracking, she was unable to register hope. I tried to assure her that those concerns, as gray and depressing as they seemed now, would pass, that the world was full also of sunshine. But it was hard to persuade her of a coming spring, and I'm sure I failed to do so. Endless winter.

I met a man a few days later after who hardly noticed the ice at all. Though he had recently lost a high-paying job and had a family to support, he was not dwelling on the problem but rather looking ahead to what's next. Eyes bright, he spoke of those who had real problems in life and of his desire to be of service to them in a new line of work. Voice alive, he smiled as he talked of the love of family and encouragement of friends. It was as though the lake was already blue and sparkling in his life. There was no need to convince him of spring; he was showing it to me.

Each year, at the first sign of open water, some neighbor kids get into a paddle boat and venture out into the lake for the first time. They seek out the cracks that have developed in the dying ice and maneuver their little craft through them like French explorers searching for the headwaters of the Mississippi. I watch them from my window and remind myself that with eternity in our hearts we can find beauty even in life's trials, something to discover even in an expanse of gray.
When it happens — the last ice finally settling below the rising water—it takes only a few minutes. Next time I look out the window, the lake might be open, the last of winter's ice gone. Soon . . . maybe today.

You can contact Mike at mhalleen@att.net to be added to his weekly devotional email list.

Submitted by Doreen Hietsch

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