I looked down to make sure of my footing. The snow was coming down steady. That’s when I noticed a strange sight. There were hundreds of small circles on the sidewalk beneath my feet. They stood out in the snow. In the middle of each circle was a pebble or what looked like a small chunk of ice. The snow around each stone had completely disappeared.
I know that this phenomena was not the equivalent of Britain’s Stonehenge, but it captured my interest as I wondered what I was seeing. I love mysteries. My imagination went to work on solving this puzzle. I stopped to look at one small circle and that’s when it hit me. The circles on the sidewalk were the result of rock salt that had been scattered along the way.
Where had it come from? It didn’t look like it was limited to one particular house. It went the length of the sidewalk and extended into the street. As I thought about it, it was more likely that the rock salt had been shot out of a spreader on the back of a truck. It fit with what I was seeing.
As I looked more closely, I noticed that each piece of salt seemed to melt the snow around it. I was curious about this, so when I got home, I Googled it. I learned that the salt didn’t heat up the snow and melt it. Salt actually lowers the freezing point of water because it breaks up at the molecular level. In doing so, the additional ions make it harder for the water to bond and become ice and it appears to melt.
With Valentine’s Day on my mind, I thought about what I had seen on the sidewalk. Love has the same power to thaw a cold heart as that rock salt does to melt the ice. Love breaks down our defenses. It gets in the way of our excuses. Love changes the landscape of our lives. The Apostle Paul says it best when he says, “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres ... Love never fails.”
The Bible tells us that God is love and he is dependable and true. He is rock solid. The good news is that he has invited us to be his ambassadors. He sends us out to spread the seeds of his love. He tells us to scatter them far and wide along the pathways of life. Too often though we see our role in a very limited light. We tend to drop a seed here or there but mostly in places where we think it will grow.
The truth is that we need to be bold and spread God’s love as far and wide as that salt spreader. It has the power to transform the world. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prophetically declared that, “love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.” He was right. Love can melt the sinful heart and turn even the worst offender into a friend of God. That is what the church is called to do and our job has just begun. Happy Valentine’s Day.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.