Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Touch of Heaven to Hold Onto

On Monday morning the three older children returned to school and I took my three-year-old ice skating at our favorite outdoor rink.

The outdoor rink at Port Jefferson Harbor Park is built next to an old boathouse, which was converted into a community center, a few hundred yards away from the actual harbor. I much prefer the outdoor rink to an indoor one, with its cold, stale air and lack of scenery. While we skate, we can take in the endless view, occasionally disrupted by the departure of the huge, white ferry, which we occasionally board to visit the cousins in Massachussetts.

Last week, during winter break, I had let the children all stay up every night until midnight watching the Olympics. My three-year-old attempted the figure skating moves on the living room rug, often blocking our view of the routines. She wants to be an ice dancer like one of her favorite literary characters, Angelina Ballerina.

She has been skating on the sandbox-turned-ice rink in our backyard on a regular basis, and when I can take them all to the rink she is able to skate independently. So we really enjoy our time together on the ice.

When we arrived, there was one couple with a girl her age; they soon tired of the effort and left. That left us two and an elderly gentleman, who quietly skated around and around the perimeter.

Although she knows she can do it, she always starts off by clinging to me. Then I hold her hands and skate backwards with her, until she decides to let go and skate towards me. Then she starts to mimic my moves. As the ice gets more and more scuffed-up, her confidence increases. During this session, probably the last of the year, she learned to skate backwards as well as in circles. I promised her a cup of hot cocoa if she would smile for a few pictures.

They let us stay on the ice longer, because there were no more customers for the next session. We just kept going and going until we were both utterly exhausted. We put a dollar in the beverage machine for a hot cocoa and another in the snack machine for a bag of Goldfish.

We brought all our stuff out onto a bench at the harbor’s edge and just sat there, sipping our hot cocoa and snacking on Goldfish, and watching the stillness and beauty of the cold, quiet water, glistening on this sunny, forty-degree day. It was truly a touch of heaven to hold onto.

Chapter 18
The Eternal is the judge of all things without exception; the LORD alone is just.
Whom has he made equal to describing his works, and who can probe his mighty deeds?
Who can measure his majestic power, or exhaust the tale of his mercies?
One cannot lessen, nor increase, nor penetrate the wonders of the LORD.
When a man ends he is only beginning, and when he stops he is still bewildered.
What is man, of what worth is he? the good, the evil in him, what are these?
The sum of a man's days is great if it reaches a hundred years:
Like a drop of sea water, like a grain of sand, so are these few years among the days of eternity.
That is why the LORD is patient with men and showers upon them his mercy.
He sees and understands that their death is grievous, and so he forgives them all the more.
Man may be merciful to his fellow man, but the LORD'S mercy reaches all flesh,
Reproving, admonishing, teaching, as a shepherd guides his flock;
Merciful to those who accept his guidance, who are diligent in his precepts.

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