Lying awake in my bed in the middle of the night, a steady stream of water flowed outside my window. More than a drip. It was constant all night long. But it wasn’t raining.
The melt after the long winter.
In the morning, drifts upon layers of snow still covered the yard. Rooftops were still completely covered in white. Icicles clung to the eves, dripping from the long tips that formed overnight. Yet there was a constant flow of water running down the driveway into the street. A steady stream of water flooded the gutters and downspouts on the corners of the house. Little sparrows drank from the puddles on the concrete out back and a neighborhood squirrel busied herself with a miniature brook flowing along the fence line.
I pulled on my boots and stepped outside into the sunshine. I still needed a coat, but the frigid temperatures from weeks past had warmed into the mid-forties. I dared to splash my feet in the water standing on the driveway as I walked to the mailbox. It was constant, the flow of snow melt. When I reached the street, the current picked up and rushed into the storm sewer.
Even though I could see the results of the melt, I could not see the process. With all that water dripping from the rooftops and driveways, I wanted to see where it was coming from. I longed for the visual that explained the sounds. But the snow was still deep, and the roofs were still covered.
My toe kicked a rigid edge as my boot made another splash. I leaned over the flowing water to open the mailbox and glanced down. My boot formed a fork in the stream, forcing the melting snow to divide. Now there were two smaller tributaries flowing all the way around my foot. They re-joined at my toe and disappeared under the edge of a large ice plate.
It’s so strange how the snow melts from the bottom up.
One would think, with the sun shining down from the sky, that the snow would melt from the top down. But that was not the case. I left my foot in place and leaned over to examine the plate of ice. Less than one inch off the pavement, there was just enough room for water to run under it all the way to the drain at the corner by the stop sign.
Upon closer examination, I realized the water filling the eves was also running underneath the layers of snow gracing our roof. The constant flow of running water I listened to in the night was a result of an invisible melting process at work in the light of the moon. The same was true for the water on the driveway. That was also a result of the melt rising up from the ground into the drifts on the grass, as opposed to melting from the top side first.
I pondered the melting phenomena all day long. The snow melting from the bottom up.
And then it occurred to me. Isn’t that the natural process of transformation? We expect change to be noticeable when in reality the most important changes are the ones that take place in the secret places of our heart. We long to be cleansed of old hurts only to learn that we must begin on the inside before it shows on the outside.
And so it is with injuries and disease. They must be healed and treated from the inside out. Cancer cells must be killed on the inside before the patient can experience health on the outside. A bone must be set inside the muscles before it can grow back into place. An infection must be managed with antibiotics penetrating the blood before our bodies are well again.
And so it is with our soul. Cleansing is part of the process. A baptism of our spirit must take place before we are free to live life changed. Betrayal, jealousy, anger, broken relationships—these are all exterior events than must be healed by interior measures. Change is not revealed on the outside until the interior parts are intact. And yes, even grief. The road to wholeness is a lifetime of healing that begins in the heart, invades our soul, and is eventually manifest by our outward appearance.
Just like the mystery of the melting snow.
The process begins long before it is visible. We can hear the water running. We can see the results before we understand exactly where it’s coming from. But it takes a while before we are able to see the results trickling in. Life has a way of building up! Sometimes it’s all I can do to watch out for what’s coming my way. I don’t understand the whys, the reasons, or the timings, but I understand there in an invisible, interior process at work. But just like the snow, there is healing in the process. The mystery of the melt reminds me that a new season is coming.
To hear with my heart,
To see with my soul,
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
To trust in a way that I cannot see,
That’s what faith must be. ~Michael Card, Song lyrics to That’s What Faith Must Be
Transformation. It is a process. It happens from the inside out.
Transformation. Living Life Changed. Life is not the same. Everything is different. Yet I am still me on the inside, searching for a way to emerge into the new reality. The way is not easy. In fact, it is very difficult. The only way to get there is to go through the process.
Tonight, I lay awake in my bed and listen to the rain pattering against the window. We need the rain to wash away the debris of the long winter. We need the rain to nourish the grass and prompt the early spring bulbs to sprout. I lean into that cleansing power, hoping with my whole heart that even though I cannot see what lies ahead, I can trust in a way that I cannot see. And somehow, someway, like the mystery of the melt, all will be well.