Long before Elsa, Anna, Olaf and company came on the scene, my godmother, Aunt Jennie, taught me about “frozen moments.”
Frozen moments, she said, were the special times or blessings in our lives that are so wonderful that we don’t want them to end. They’re the moments that we need to hypothetically “freeze” in our memory so we can draw joy and strength from them and remember God’s many blessings.
Growing up, Aunt Jennie used the term most often in referring to my family’s frequent visits back to the East Coast. I was born in New Jersey, but a job transfer caused my parents to move the family to the Detroit area when I was 5 years old. Most of our vacations back then were spent traveling home to see my many cousins and other relatives. We often mixed in fun trips to the shore or to the Big Apple, and I indeed treasured those experiences and quickly learned about the benefits of frozen moments.
Up until her recent death at age 93, Aunt Jennie still talked about the frozen moments in her own life. My godmother, you see, had more than her share of suffering: losing her husband and two of her five children in addition to dealing with the challenges of aging.
Aunt Jennie’s frozen moments concept popped into my mind during the blizzard that clobbered the East Coast in late January. My husband and I were caught in the middle of it as we were attending the March for Life in Washington. We had our own series of frozen moments — both literally and figuratively — as we hunkered down in our hotel with hundreds of other pro-life leaders, students and march attendees.
We were snowed in and watched as the flakes continued to fly for nearly two full days. First, there was the impromptu conference that we attended given by women of the Silent No More Awareness ministry. A priest who was stranded with his high school students was doing his best to turn the longer-than-expected weekend into a retreat. He recognized the organization’s co-founder, Janet Morana, in the lobby and asked her if she wouldn’t mind bringing some of the Silent No More Awareness members to meet the students and share their abortion healing stories.
What occurred at this unexpected gathering was one of the most powerful pro-life events I’ve ever experienced. Five women briefly shared their abortion stories and answered questions. The students were more than attentive. Some were teary-eyed. Others approached the women afterward and shared their own stories about how abortion in some way had impacted their lives.
Then there were the countless frozen moments experienced by the many stranded in cars and buses along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Those following the developments online as the stories went viral also had their own vicarious frozen moments. Whether it was the beautiful images of the now-famous “Turnpike Mass” or the countless Good Samaritans who helped those stranded motorists, frozen moments that spoke so loudly of God’s goodness were everywhere.
Another frozen moment came from (believe it or not) the secular media coverage received by the March for Life. News outlets that almost always ignore or downplay the annual march were forced to mention it as they reported on the turnpike incidents. Go figure. Thanks to the blizzard of 2016, there are more than enough frozen moments to keep us spiritually nourished and motivated; moments that, no doubt, would make Elsa, Anna, Olaf — and especially my godmother — very proud.
This column first appeared on OSV Newsweekly.