This week was frigidly cold, but the sky was deep blue, the sundogs were short but brilliant….and we even had moondogs. Who knew?
(For those who’ve never lived west of the Great Lakes -I’ve never saw them east of there…- sundogs are these parenthesis-type brackets of rainbows around the sun. On Really Cold days, I’ve seen them so they almost form a circle around the pulsating globe of yellow. Moondogs are the same…except at night. And, as Tom Hanks’ character, Larry Crowne, would say “Spec-tak-u-lar!”
To me, they feel like a prize for enduring the extra-deep cold. Because (I think) they only come with the bone-chilling cold, they are an unexpected gift. They pull me out of myself, making me notice the beauty, and fill me with awe that such beauty can only come after the very cold. (I suppose that after a walk outside a great mug of fair-trade hot chocolate has a similar effect.)
It’s a reminder to me, too, that the tough bits of life will pass, like a cocoon. Life always pushes through, coaxing good out from the bad. We can’t appreciate the good, the beauty, the light, unless we’ve endured the pain, the ugliness, the darkness that we all experience from time to time (or more often then that). That’s a hope I hold onto through those times in life that feel like I’m mired down in take-your-boot-off mud; fearing the one slip that will take me under.
My faith tradition has these images of hope as a recurring theme: rainbows after floods, return after being exiled from that place we call ‘home’, feasts after famine, resurrection after crucifixion, the world made new overcoming one so corrupt and violent.
What images and stories do you find yourself drawing on to maintain hope during those times in life that make you feel weighed down or drowning?
Those stories and images, and the moondogs, come to me as gifts to my soul when I have those days. This is all a kind of grace; and yes, it is amazing.
I’ve seen it work from the other end, too. When you listen to someone’s story and validate their humanity. (That’s sort of behind #MeToo), or do something very ordinary for someone unexpectedly, or smile at a stranger. Hmm another grace: we are not alone.
I’m starting a 6-week block called Lent. It’s a time for nurturing the soul, noticing these everyday gifts of grace. How each day lengthens by a mere 2 minutes…but it feels like a weight being lifted as sunrise comes earlier and sunset comes later. For me, Lent’s a time of making space in the busy-ness, and the business, of daily living to stop and notice. It fills the soul, this awareness.
It reminds me Life is a gift. It is a source of immense beauty, and awe. And if I stop long enough, and respond to that grace, I find I am in relationship with the Holy, and am Beloved. The second gift of Lent is that it makes me to wrestle with this question: what does it mean that I am God’s beloved?
Found the feature image on Google Images; it’s from fineartamerica.com