Ice Storm

It’s snowing, a quiet downfall of small flakes. Daughter Meridith and I make up children’s book titles using the word “Little.” Today it was “The Littlest Snowflake.”

Prior to Saturday’s Women’s March Reverend Ginny Mikita, with her sparkling presence, offered us gently disquieting and heart-affirming encouragement as she told of the time she and her daughter went to the March on the day after 45’s inauguration. There they heard Gloria Steinem’s call to courage and Michael Moore’s assurance that “this will be over in 4-6 months.”

Saturday it rained. Saturday it snowed. Saturday the wind gusted up to 40 mph. It was as if the rain and snow were a tag team determined to deter the Marchers. The Marchers won. They came into the finish laughing and cheering and shivering. They had marched again. Perhaps the most stirring poster sardonically read something along the lines of “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this shit.”

I sit here, the ever present pit in my stomach. How I love the sensibility that leads all of us to cherish “The Littlest Snowflake.” I try to balance it with a world suffocating under violence and the violation of all we cherish. I can’t. Cruelty overwhelms.

I’m reading Barry Lopez’s Horizon. He’s watching his young grandson playing in a pool, playing in joy, and he writes, “In the beauty of this moment, I suddenly feel the question: What will happen to us? … I want to wish each stranger I see … an untroubled life. I want everyone here to survive what is coming.”

And I too, of course, want everyone I see to survive, to be able always to watch for the delight of the littlest snowflake.

Ice Storm

Here on the couch with my young dog
I’m feeling gratitude, an odd gratitude,
an old gratitude, one I thought had gone

for good down a long back road
that led away from the years when
I felt glad, felt what I believed

was an abiding gratitude: to be,
to be warm, and grateful to be
warm, to have some pillows

and a dozen books and all afternoon.
To be alone without even a sideswipe
of loneliness. To be on page 47,

or 114, or page one and there
was nothing missing. The ice
storm made things warm,

time irrelevant, made the sleeping
dog an Amen to a prayer
never needing to be said.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Third Wednesday
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Just published is Wild Hope: Stories for Lent from Paraclete Press, by Gayle Boss, an exquisite spiritual writer. Gayle spent years studying species that are not only endangered but near extinction. “Wild Hope is the only book whose table of contents alone gave me chills” wrote MacArthur grantee Carl Safina. The collection has also been been celebrated by Bill McKibbon and Richard Rohr. The woodcuts by David G. Klein are astonishing.

On Tuesday, January 28, at 7pm, come see us in Montague at the amazing, one-and-only BookNook and Java Shop! I’ll be reading from St. Peter and the Goldfinch, and chatting with Book Nook people. The best people. Here’s how to get there.

I am welcoming new sign-ups for one-on-one coaching in poetry writing held here at our home or online via Zoom or Skype. No experience needed; all levels are welcome. I always tailor the sessions to meet whatever you would enjoy working with. To set up a date and time just contact me at this link or the one above. Cost is $85 for an hour-and-a-half session or $235 for three sessions. And of course if you don’t enjoy our time together, no charge!!😊

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection


8 thoughts on “Ice Storm

  1. Jack, your line breaks always – ALWAYS – leave me breathless. Like Indiana Jones taking that fateful steps from the edge onto what looks like nothingness but his foot meets the bridge that is always waiting to support that foot and the direction over the known unknown into the place where healing water will be found. What a poem!

    • Now Linda, you MUST believe how much this means to me. The joy of composing is
      the artistry side of it, something that in our culture is seldom attended to
      in schools thus leaving the art itself out of the lives of everyone, depriving
      them of the artistic experience of the work. Thank you sooooo much. I spend much time
      brooding over the effect of the decision of each line break, when it breaks
      and what it leads to in the following line. To have you notice the
      breaks is a gift, a joy, an exquisite affirmation. My thanks are an abundance.

    • And how I profoundly appreciate knowing that I have created some beauty
      in a much mangled world. Thank you, Debra. It’s a gift back to you for
      your caring for me.

    • Sandy, this is so uplifting to hear. E.M. Forester’s great comment, “Only connect” has
      been something I hope for always when I try to compose. Can’t thank you sufficiently.
      Here’s to an ever healthy table!!!!

  2. Oh Jack…your blogs…how we need them. Catching up and so just reading. Though I still pass it forward the day it arrives to Carol Greenburg, Julie Haab Miller, Marchiene Rienstra and Raubolt… They can’t seem to get signed up. But they don’t want to miss your good words…. See you soon! 11th!


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