Every so often, someone shows an act of kindness that has a much greater and more profound outcome than could have been imagined. That is the case with Mitch and Ramona Erickson. I had the privilege of watching something like that unfold this past weekend.
One day Mitch had an idea. He and Ramona live on Lake Johanna in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Their lake was froze over as all lakes do in Minnesota. It was also covered with snow as is also the case with Minnesota lakes. As he was looking out the window overlooking the lake, he had a thought. I’d like to get a four-wheeler, put a plow on it, and make a path all the way around the lake and plow a couple of ice rinks for people to use. If I did, people would get outside and go for walks and have a place for some fun activity.
As he shared this idea with his wife Ramona, her first thought was, “Does this boy just want another toy or is he serious?” She knew her good man loved the people on this lake and supported Mitch in the dream. It didn’t take Mitch long to find a used 4 wheeler and head over to Tousley Motorsports to have it outfitted for the kind of plow he’d need to plow the lake.
He got it home, got it down to the lake, and began to learn the reality of the commitment. This would become a commitment to plow this 3 mile path around the lake and keep it plowed throughout the multiple snowfalls that would come again and again. Then there was the learning of the art of snowplowing on ice with a four-wheeler. That was an adventure in itself. Mitch quickly mastered that skill and before long, behold, there was a wide walking path around the lake with three ice rinks that he had plowed in different areas.
Remember the movie, Field of Dreams–”Build it and they will come”? Well that is exactly what happened. The community of lake home owners and people from the neighbor began to use the path around the lake and enjoy a winter on the lake like they hadn’t before. And oh how grateful they were.
This past Sunday a few people in charge of the homeowners association put together an invite for everyone to come out and enjoy the weather. Caribou coffee, hot chocolate, marshmallows, and other various goodies along with a mobile fire pit were brought to the event. And oh how the neighborhood came out! There was 80-100 adults and children – maybe more, that had come along with a number of dogs that were also able to enjoy the event. People didn’t just stay for a few minutes. Many stayed for hours. People were meeting their neighbors, pointing out what house they lived in, and getting to know each other. After a few weeks of brutally cold weather, this had turned out to be a gorgeous day in the mid 30’s, probably feeling almost tropical to the crowd out there. The snow was perfect for building a snow man or a fun snow-ball fight for the kids – both which happened! It was a celebration of pure community such as you seldom see.
Person after person reached out to Mitch and Ramona to thank them, not only for plowing the path, but for actually keeping it up. Mitch had become a cult-hero but Ramona was not left out. People knew that without her supporting him this wouldn’t have happened. For Mitch and Ramona, it was nothing. Taking care of people is what they do for a living. As owners of Provident Home Healthcare, their company takes care of people 24 hours a day 7 days a week. And that should be a part of this story. As their close friend, I know first hand of the long hours they put in day after day. They rarely take a complete day off. So for Mitch to make this kind of commitment for the sake of his neighbors only amplifies this act of kindness.
I talked to many people there that day. Sharon, a middle age woman who has lived on the lake for a very long time had already walked around the lake twice that day. She spilled over with the appreciation she felt toward Mitch and Ramona for this amazing act of kindness. She said, “In all the many years I’ve lived on this lake, I’ve never seen this happen. It’s brought an entire new level of appreciation for the lake. I am enjoying it this winter like I never have and I’ve gotten to know or speak to so many more neighbors.” “I am so thankful to Mitch.” And this kind of statement was repeated to me over and over as I met and talked with the people there that day.
To me, this is a story about the commitment to an act of kindness for the sake of others that brings such profound joy. That was what I saw on the faces of people all day. Joy! This day demonstrated Romans 12:10 (NKJV) to me which says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…”
Mitch had been kindly and affectionately putting others before himself in his dedication to this path. And they all came out on this day to share their thanks and appreciation for it!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if neighborhoods could be once again be filled with people who think about how to be a blessing to each other?
John 13:34 (NLT) “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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