Our lake has been performing a magic act. Last week crystal snow swirled across clear white glass. Yesterday a caldron of steam brewed and hovered over thick gray slush. Today the lake returned to clear blue water reflecting a flock of blackbirds flying overhead. The lake’s ability to change from liquid to gas to solid and back again seems like magic.
I know it’s science, but isn’t science magical? The fact is everything that has mass and weight is made of matter, and all matter can change. Stars and planets, birds and bees, lakes and mountains, you and I are all made of matter. Which means we all have the ability to change (a little or a lot) for the better.
Literature is filled with dynamic characters who undergo a positive transformation. The Beast, Neville Longbottom, Scrooge, Elizabeth Bennet, and everyone off to see the wizard are just a few well-known characters who are better by the end of the story. The main characters of the musical Wicked even sing a song about it, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
One of my favorite childhood novels is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett. Mary Lennox is a spoiled little girl sent to live at a sad and lonely place. As she tends a neglected garden, she brings out the beauty and joy in herself and everyone around her.
History is marked by people whose change of heart changed the world. Rosa Parks bravely changed her mind about sitting in the back of the bus. The Apostle Paul saw the light on the road to Damascus. Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts on the evils of slavery evolved. Call it flip-flopping, but George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Ordinary people can change, too. Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Every year, it helps thousands of former gang members become a valuable part of their families and community. Founder Father Gregory Joseph Boyle expressed the ability to help people change their lives by quoting poet Galway Kinnell, “Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness.”
Some say a leopard doesn’t change its spots. Certainly, we must be wise in our interactions with others, but we should always leave the door open for change. We can start by looking for the loveliness in ourselves and in others. We can break our own self-defeating and hurtful habits and thought patterns. We can have hope that the people we care about can and will do the same.
Past injustices, political division, discouraging headlines, personal struggles, fear and pure stubbornness can make us cold as ice. Maybe the lake’s dramatic transformation is nature’s way of reminding us to let our hearts melt a little, show grace, and have faith we all can continuously learn, grow and change into the best version of ourselves. §
A big thanks to my patrons ~ Anson, Betsy, Clint, Ed, Eileen, Karin, Judy, Julie, Melinda, Michelle, Mike, and Suzanna! If this essay added value to your life in some small way, please consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month. To find out more, go to http://www.patreon.com/thesimpleswan.