by Emily Conrad

In spring, a deep emotion wells in me, rejoicing. This joy thaws usually a few weeks before the last of the snow as my being anticipates the warmth and growth of a summer in its infant stage.

Winter doesn’t do this for me. Forced outside, I huddle up in puffy jackets and tough boots, hands shoved deep in mittens or pockets. I march, my thighs growing numb and my face burning as I wait for it to end.

But winter does bring one gift: late sunrises. Even I, the writer with no day job to report to, can get myself out of bed and down the street by 7:30, when I can watch the frozen lake turn purple and pink as the sun rises into the cold.

Yesterday, I made the early trek. Four masts without sails stuck up along the breakwater, and I figured they were sailboats, left to wait out the winter much like me: unhappily. Picking my way over crusty snow, however, I found I was wrong.

These masts belonged to ice boats, fitted with blades instead of hulls, created to skim the surface of the frozen lake at speeds akin to those achieved in cars travelling country highways.

The tracks scraped over the ice and the large boot prints by my feet assure me that while I simply endure winter, others celebrate it.

There is more to this season than I give it credit for, more enjoyment here than I’d imagined in the confines of my warm home.

In the cocoon of my home, I set out across the Internet. I stumble across a site that assures me ice has a glossary all its own. The pictures that accompany some of the terms pique my curiosity, light a desire to return to the lake in search of jumbled ice and ice ridges and dendrites.

Perhaps winter really is a wonderland. Perhaps I miss out on so much, rushing through seasons, waiting for the next. When I lift my eyes from frozen sidewalks and inconvenient storms brewing on my weather app, I see some of the beauty of where I am today, natural ice art that only forms in the cold.

We all have favorite seasons of life, milestones that warm us through and through as they draw near, but those other seasons are as unavoidable as winter in the north.

They come with ridges and cracks and fissures and stresses.

This is the vocabulary of ice, and the vocabulary of relationships and post-holiday emotions.

Literal ice boats can be stopped by things like these. But faith, an ice boat for the figurative winters, can overcome them all.

With faith, we can persevere at loving, even when the relationship feels frozen.

With faith, we can look to Jesus for provision, even as the wind chills drop and the bills increase.

With faith, we can complete our quiet day’s work, believing that each of these little snowflake-like efforts will accumulate into something beautiful as we pile them up in the hands of Jesus.

As a cold day turns into frozen weeks and months, we can bundle up with prayer and love and head out to find beauty more elaborate than we dared to believe existed in such a desert of snow and ice.

The fissures and breaks and cracks are still there, still dangerous, but our Soul Preserver does not fail. Our Guide is experienced, and always ready to show us more.

Faith: An Ice Boat to Navigate Figurative Winters via @emilyrconrad #faith #winter