Starting Point
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Issue Date:  March 11, 2005

Starting Point


“Is that all there is? Is something wrong with this machine?” That was my reaction when our brand new icemaker dropped its first load of cubes. It seemed like a pathetically small pile in the middle of a rather large bin.

We had wanted that icemaker for a long time. For the first 35 years of our marriage we had made do with a succession of secondhand refrigerators, none of which had an icemaker. So we’d gone through the usual progression of complaints, questions and frustrations. “Who left a tray with only one ice cube in it?” “Why didn’t you dump the ice cubes and make more?” “There’s no ice because I made popsicles for the kids.” And, “You’d better pick up some more ice on the way home.” We’d also fought metal trays that froze so hard you had to run hot water over them and plastic trays requiring almost superhuman strength to loosen.

Finally, a timely inheritance opened a window of opportunity for a kitchen remodeling that would include new appliances. The last piece was a refrigerator complete with icemaker. We hovered hopefully as the installers hooked up the new device. They left with a reminder that it would take several hours for the freezer to get down to a temperature that would produce ice.

We checked frequently and finally heard the distinctive sound of ice cubes dropping into the bin. We opened the door eagerly but our faces fell as we saw what seemed to be a pitiful collection of cubes.

A little patience was rewarded however. About 90 minutes later a second load was dropped and more followed on a regular basis. Soon there was an ample quantity and since that small beginning we’ve always had enough ice.

A priest friend once defined God’s grace as “those people, things and events that God keeps strewing in our paths to bring us closer to him.” I like that definition; it points out that grace takes many forms and is so abundant that God can almost seem casual in his distribution. Grace may not appear spectacular, but it keeps coming. Like ice from my icemaker.

Win Douglass lives and writes in Des Moines, Iowa.

National Catholic Reporter, March 11, 2005

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