I don’t like ice.
Well, maybe in lemonade on a hot summer day, but underfoot?
I don’t like ice.
There is, as is usual with strong distaste, a history behind this. It started with Gary, the albino boy next door, who jumped on my sled as I was pulling it down the sidewalk. His weight stopped the sled but not me. My arm snapped like a twig when I tried to stop myself from leaving my new front teeth implanted in the ice.
“Green stick fracture,” the doc said before he even pulled his parka off. I guess that’s what they call it when it snaps like a twig and bends where it ought not to. Without further ado –or any ado at all actually, he grabbed my arm with both hands, yanked hard and reset it, without painkillers, before my mom, the nurse, could inquire about treatment protocol. My screams apparently sent other kids running out of the clinic.
Then there was that time after a short dramatic warm Chinook wind, followed by a 30 below quick freeze, turned a foot of snow into a thick layer of ice on every surface in town. I should have simply sat down in my smart pencil skirt, accessorized with high-heeled brown leather dress boots, and bum-bogganed down the slope. Instead I jumped over the really bad part, caught my toe in a poorly placed, but well-disguised ice pocket and spent the next three years “learning to adapt to my handicap” as my blind physiotherapist phrased it.
I love walking. Now that I can walk without pain again the joy of getting out into the woods is even greater. That freedom is so precious.
But the fear of falling on ice has stayed with me.
One day after a thaw and re-freeze I faced this ice trail leading up to the Community Forest. In the past I would turn and shuffle home, but this time was different. Someone had given me slip-on cleats that fit over my boots. They had chunks of metal sticking out the bottom of thick rubber straps that grabbed the ice with vicious tenacity. I took a deep breath and marched right up that trail. No picking my way around on the grassy edges, no boot-skating, no painstaking route-planning or scattering of sand before each foot-fall. Nope. I just marched right up the center. Those things are a marvel.
Sometimes I look at the path set before me in this life and see nothing but the risk of falling. I want to turn around. I want to retreat and wait for circumstances to change. OK, I want to retreat and call up the pray-ers I know to get the message out to other people who pray so the odds of getting the “righteous one” whose prayers “availeth much” (someone who has an in with God) are higher and will change my circumstances. At the very least I figure if enough people bug God on my behalf it will be like presenting a petition to the Mayor to have a stop sign put in at the intersection of 11th Ave. and 2nd St. South. He will be swayed by sheer numbers.
I showed someone this marvelous slip-on invention and he remarked that they looked like the spikes on hobnail boots, then added, (being a student of history) “The Roman soldiers had those on the bottom of their shoes to preserve their foot wear and also to give them more stability than their enemies on slippery, bloody and muddy soil in battle.”
“Eww,” I said. He pretended to ignore me.
“Caligae, they called them. Ah yes, the famous caligae. Secret weapon of the Roman army. Good footwear.”
I was actually thinking about footwear recently, and not because I am a fashionable shoe-lover. Not being able to walk without pain for so long made me a champion of the sensible shoe (don’t get me started). I was meditating on the armour of God passage in Ephesians 6, in which we are commanded to put on the shoes that come from the preparation of the gospel of peace that we might take a stand against the devil’s schemes. One of those schemes is slippery slope issues which people often either avoid or rush into without being properly equipped. Part of the equipment is the proper footwear that comes from the preparation of the gospel of peace.
I used to think that meant to put on your running shoes and get out there and make converts, but verses 13 and 14 talk about standing firm and standing some more in an act of resistance –and after we have stood to stand firm some more. Rushing about in every direction trying to save the world is not the point here. The point is being firmly grounded so we don’t slip and snap like twigs or slide wildly off course when the road is slick. For this we need to get a really good grip on truth.
Sometimes the road is slick with concepts we can’t fully grasp. Traditional methods don’t always work. Logic doesn’t always work. (God’s solutions in the Bible include so many ludicrous ideas that anybody wanting to fake a credible story would have failed to get this past the first editor. He frees a nation from slavery by sending a stuttering old man with a stick, and a people from marauders by sending the most cowardly little guy hiding out in a wine-press, and a world from sin by sending a baby born to a couple who apparently hadn’t been married long enough, wink, wink, nudge, nudge?)
The shoes we are to wear in combat with the enemy of our souls come from the good news of peace. We fight lies and fear with the assurance that only comes from a secure position granted by knowing peace in more than a theoretical way. It’s a peace that is experienced by knowing the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, in a sincere relationship which involves both resting and wrestling.
To be honest I am standing at the bottom of a daunting icy patch on my journey right now. I want to turn and shuffle on home, or at least get my prayer buddies to gang up on God, but amazingly when the doctor gave me the “Let’s take this one step at a time” speech today, I had a peace I cannot explain. It hasn’t always been here in the last six weeks, but it was here today when I needed it.
Puttin’ on my hobnail boots on and digging in. No more fear.
It will be interesting to see how His script plays out in the next few episodes of this saga.
God is still good.