We moved into our dream home, a small log cabin nestled in the woods on the side of a Georgia ridge in December of 2001, my husband and I. This period was one of the darkest days of our lives, and we were at a low point that still hurts to think about. It was a very tough and challenging time for me professionally, and our family was getting hit with multiple major crises.
I’ve never been a take a walk in the rain kind of gal, but for some reason, I always wanted to be. I guess because we all know about those rose colored glasses I can’t seem to break, even after almost 60 years on this earth. I am a romantic, among many other things.
Shortly after moving in to the cabin, my feelings about the rain started to change. I had always hated rainy days, but here in the woods on the steep side of the ridge, the rain sounds beautiful falling through the leaves, and it almost always brings fog that surrounds the cabin. The backside of the cabin faces the down slope and you can sit on the porch and be in the middle of the soft grey blue cloud. It’s one of the most peaceful experiences I have ever had.
The forest is so dense you can’t see the road, let alone a sunset, during the summer, unless you stand at the top of the driveway for just a glimpse. My husband and I used to bundle up that December and sit out on the porch to watch the spectacular sunsets, almost every night. We would be out at the store, and one of us would look at the time and we would rush home. If guests were over, we insisted they put their coats on to look at “our” sunset.
In a word, we took time to experience nature, rather than just live in it. To be fair, that’s mostly a description of me. My husband works outside and will never work in a building. He takes moments every day to enjoy sunrises and sunsets and eagles flying over the river. But even he probably didn’t much enjoy the fog.
Yesterday I had three of my grandchildren here. Conner, the two year old future mountain climber and already professional acrobat, had spent the night. His older brother and sister were very upset to be left at home, even though it wasn’t their turn. Their grandfather promised them a big surprise was waiting for them here.
When they arrived yesterday, in the middle of a terrible rainstorm, the first thing Sadie (5 going on 30) asked was where her surprise was. I tried to get her to play a guessing game, but she was relentless. She always is. So I took her to the door and showed her the new bigger swimming pool I had found for them on sale.
She was excited and crestfallen at the same time, seeing the new pool through the rain falling. She struggled for a few minutes, anxiously watching the pool through the downpour, her usually lively mood a little serious.
Not five minutes later, she came to me with the answer, as the child always, always does. Our Sadie is a top rate problem solver, and never stays down. She said “Pipi, we just have to ignore the rain.”
Then she made her pitch. Why should a little rain stop their fun in the water? What difference would it make? No reason at all to allow the weather to stop the fun and trap us all inside and ruin our day.
I smiled, because I had known that was what she would come back with. Pipi has let her play in the rain since she was barely old enough to stand and stick her chubby little foot out of the porch and feel the drops the first time.
But her earnest expression and her lively body language, arms out, palms up, literally willing me to believe, along with that one eloquent sentence, made me think about it all day.
We just have to ignore the rain.
I am not very good at ignoring the storms. Not the weather ones. Not the life ones. I am not very good at always looking for joy, even on the darkest days. I am not very good at thanking God for life’s storms. In the course of our lives here at the cabin, I lost my initial joy at the rain and fog and lost myself in fear of falling trees and lightning strikes.
Jesus emphasized to us, in word and deeds, to listen to the children, to emulate them. Mountains of books and commentaries have been written analyzing just exactly what he meant. I won’t try here, but I do think that keeping ourselves open to joy in the middle of the rain is probably one of the things he had in mind.
To reject joy is to reject the Father, from whom all joy comes. Happiness is fleeting and nice, but not joy. Joy is the supernova of human emotion, the bright and blinding flash that we can open ourselves to, but not really ever initiate. It is to be experienced, not created.
And if you can’t be open to joy in the rain and storms, you are probably going to miss most of the opportunities to experience it.
Oh yeah, and joy should be shared.
Thank you Sadie, for sharing the joy, and reminding me to work on my attitude about storms.
One last afterthought here. Those dark times we went through when we first moved here were made much more bearable by the joy we allowed ourselves to find here. And those dark times gave me some very important personal strengths and our family eventually came out a lot tougher.
And the sun shined brighter than ever one day.
If you are interested in some reading that might help you remember to thank God in the middle of life’s storms, I recommend Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Jean Baptist Saint-Jure.