May 18, 2020
What is they say about rainy days and Mondays? It’s so dark outside and the rain feels cold and I just want to curl up with my pups and take a long nap. Today is not the day for naps, however. There’s much to be done and there’s little time to do it all. So we press on hoping that once the day’s work is complete, we can go to sleep satisfied that we’ve done our best. Tomorrow, as Annie sings, the sun will come out tomorrow!
At least I hope it does. The older I get the less fun rain puddles and wet shoes becomes. In fact, I have never been much of a puddle jumper. I hate wet socks and cold feet! Why would anyone jump into gross muddy water? That’s how you get trichinosis!!! Okay, maybe that’s undercooked meat products but still…I’m sure there’s something in there I don’t want touching me!
Rain has a funny way of shaping the way we experience the world. Sure, if we have a nice covered porch with a comfy rocking chair and a nice view of the mountains, and I could watch the rain all day and feel at peace. But put me behind the wheel of the car and make me drive across town and my anxiety levels shoot straight up! I hate driving in the rain. I hate walking in the rain. I hate getting my hair wet. I can’t see through my glasses. And my socks…why must my socks be wet?
What’s the difference between these two scenarios? I mean, it’s the same rain from the same clouds. There shouldn’t be such a vast polarity of feeling. The difference, I think, is one of perspective. The same rain storm falling on a sturdy roof is received differently when driving 45 mph through standing water on the highway! Our perspectives, where we are and how we interact with the rain, changes how we react and respond.
A few years ago I was driving through the Pigeon river gorge headed home to Knoxville. It was raining on and off the whole way. When I reached the highest elevations before heading down to Tennessee I noticed a break in the clouds. All around the mountains there were dark clouds, rising fog, and slick, dangerous roads. But just over the top of the mountain there was a bit of bright blue sky poking through. Just before I entered the tunnels headed west, I came to realize something important about perspective. No matter where I am, the sky above me is always blue!
Now I know that sound uncharacteristically optimistic of me, but hear me out! No matter how dark and stormy the clouds are above me, the sky never changes. It is always blue, always clear. It is only my ability to see it that has changed. Sure the clouds are really heavy with rain and the thunder echoes relentlessly. Sure the wind howls and threatens to shake everything lose and throw us into chaos. But up a little higher than we can see, just beyond the cloudburst, the sky has not changed and the sun still shines!
No we cannot alter the path of the storm with this understanding. No we cannot avoid wet hair, slick roads or damp socks. But there was something in this realization that made the madness endurable. I don’t have to wait for the sun to come out. It’s already out. It never went in. It still shines brightly in the sky just as it ever has. Only I have changed.
Grief is a lot like rain. Grief can be observed in others, like watching a storm pass over the meadow from the safety of your front porch. Sure, you can feel the cold and damp, but you are safe and dry, mostly untouched and unbothered. Grief can also be very personal and unsettling, like trying to walk through ankle deep puddles, lighting striking overhead powerlines, and threatening to shock you into oblivion.
The difference is about your perspective and your location. Regardless there is a greater truth just above the clouds of grief that remains true no matter how dark it gets. The light of hope never dims. The light of love that connected you to whatever feels lost remains. The sun never stops shining! The skies are always blue.
This gives me a little hope. Grief, like a rain storm, moves in cycles around my world. It’ll rain today. Tomorrow, it might not be so bad. I’ll hurt a while and then, just like a passing storm, the rays of light will break through the grey clouds of pain. The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar, that tomorrow, there’ll be sun!
Annie’s optimism in the face of incredible difficulty and seemingly insurmountable odds bears witness to us in our season of grief. We too can chin up and claim the promises that a day better than this one will come. No, we can’t always keep our socks dry. But there will be a day or two or three where we will stand boldly in the sun, warm and unafraid.
So find a shelter in the storm. Warm you weary bones by the fire and rest. It won’t always be this hard. In fact, the day blind stars above you twinkle with anticipation of the moment they can shower you with their healing light! All that you need is there just beyond your seeing, waiting too for the storm to pass.
Love and Light!