The teaching of ICE


The natural world is our teacher.  In modern times, the question is “Does the student want to learn?”  Winter invites us to pull our energy in to feed our roots, thereby strengthening them.  The snow and ice storms of this last month reinforced the necessity of staying contained.  As I began to contemplate what teaching(s) the ice was offering, I recognized that it could show me what happens when I harden my heart. 

With the addition of coldness, the ice doesn’t thaw easily and becomes impenetrable.  Even the salt doesn’t affect it.  I’ve certainly hardened sometimes in the desire to avoid hurt, but with my attention on avoidance, I did not fully appreciate its consequences.  Sometimes, I have been aware of making a choice, focused on blocking the pain, not recognizing that a heart as hard as ice doesn’t instantly thaw; also not recognizing that love could not find its way in. 

Later in the week, Grandfather Sun melted some of the snow.  As it dribbled down the north side roof, it fell into the gutters where it once again froze and created an ice damn.  Then there was a rainstorm.  There was SO MUCH ice that there was no runoff possible.  That which is fluid simply moves in a different direction.  It found the option of going under the roof, into the rafters, and first onto the ceiling before the floor.  The ice stood steadfast where it was, unyielding.  Wow! What a buildup--the unintended destruction because of the coldness and ice.  Now I see this too as the natural consequence of my heart becoming cold to life around me in whatever form.  It can become as hard as ice and even create a dam if I harden again after a brief thaw. 

Light-heartedness is a north teaching on a medicine wheel.  (The medicine wheel is always working with the cardinal directions so that we can remember how to stand in the center.) Experience tells me that the ice in the natural world will melt, even though I don’t know when. As a human being, I have to make a conscious choice to find an alternative to hardening my heart. When I recognize that I don’t really want a hardened heart, but created that as a means to an end, I can choose a more effective vehicle. Compassion is such an alternative. It is a way of standing “with” myself or another, not against. 

When the temperature climbed, there was so much ice in places where the sun didn’t shine, it didn’t melt all the way even when the temperature was above freezing, AND it froze again as the darkness enveloped the world.  Yes, there are important lessons here about the effects of freezing my heart, thawing it, and remaining compassionate.

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