As I write this, I’m sitting on a veranda on a ship sailing the fjords of southeastern Alaska. For several days I have observed up close—for the first time—the incomprehensible power, beauty, and history of glaciers. These moving rivers of ice are created by thousands of years of snow accumulation, which compresses into ice and moves by the force of gravity toward the sea.
As we climbed up one especially beautiful canyon, I asked the guide why the water in the river below was green and cloudy. He explained that it was filled with silt from the glacier many miles upstream. I did some reading and learned that rocks and boulders were slowly crushed between the bedrock and the moving ice above, which exerted a force of many tons per square inch. The boulders became smaller rocks, which in turn became gravel, then sand, then silt—microscopic pieces of rock so fine that in sheets it can easily be confused with clay.
Why does this matter? Because boulders aren’t useful for growing much, certainly not the foods that sustain human beings. Silt, on the other hand, provides a foothold for the growth of seeds, and with the addition of organic matter becomes a kind of soil that is more fertile than most soils. Silt promotes water retention and air circulation. The entire Great Plains of the United States, for example—with its vast fields of wheat and other crops—is the result of glaciers that crushed mountains of rock into useful soil.
We all have boulders in our lives that are not conducive for the growth of happiness—boulders of fear, pain, selfishness, dishonesty, manipulation, power, and more. But love can be like a glacier, sometimes growing slowly but eventually able to crush the greatest of boulders into a soil where we can plant the peace and happiness we seek.
We don’t have to crush the boulders by hand. I can personally attest to how hard that work can be. We can simply place the rocks where the natural power of love will grind it all into soil. Glaciers have shaped entire continents. Love can shape our lives, if we allow it to happen.