A few weeks ago I went out for my morning walk. I am walking now since I hurt my knee and have not been able to run. My son gifted me with one of those Jawbone devices that count steps. My goal is 10,000 steps per day, which I rarely accomplish but I often come close. Anyway the afor mentioned day was an exciting time to be out and about in the neighborhood. The rain was pelting at a 90-degree angle. 30 mph winds wrapped their arms around my umbrella in an attempt to seduce it from my grip. I don’t know why I insisted on the umbrella anyway. I was soaked to the bone. But I held on tight and laughed at the drama that Mother Nature was displaying. She can be histrionic!
The birds were getting their baths and the trees were soaking in a much-needed drink after a long dry summer. As I walked along I could see that the flowers were bending under the weight of the sudden and bountiful downpour. A patch of sunflowers planted near the sidewalk bowed down to the ground blocking my passage. These sunflowers stood at least 6 feet tall before the rains came. With their majestic heads turned towards heaven they filled up with raindrops, which dragged them to their proverbial knees. I wondered how they felt about this. Was it painful physically? Were they humiliated, heads once held high towards the sun, now to be kissing the clover on the earth?
Water was good, right? Except when there is too much water… we call that flooding. The sunflowers were almost but not quite flooded. They were bowed low with life giving water, but not destroyed. I began to wonder, who gets to say what is enough and what is too much? If they could speak, what would those sunflowers say?
Often we define our experiences in life according to how much pain or humiliation they bring to us. We say something is evil if it causes us pain or good if it adds to our resources or self esteem. We frame our lives empirically. Another person looking on might observe differently. How often do we discount a near flooding that was meant to enrich and enlarge the soul and bring us closer to God just because it hurts?
This thought challenges my soul.
The last year and a half has been wrought with deep loss for my family. Not a few dear ones have died, resources have left us, divorces, job loss, etc. There have been many tears. When will it stop? It feels like a flood. But what does God say? Could it be a near flood meant to cause me to bow down? My sage friends tell me that aging means more loss, loss of self, loss of family and that the richness is in seeing it all differently. I wish someone would’ve told me this sooner. I guess I am a late bloomer.
Since there is no controlling loss or the rate at which is happens, it behooves me to adjust. I no longer want to define these experiences as bad because they hurt. I want to mine the gold from every bit of life that remains, hopefully my inner life will be enlarged. I commit to seeing with different eyes. My ears will be alert to new rhythms. I will take time to process my experiences so that I might think differently about them.
And my prayer is this,
“God, help me to become comfortable kissing the clover.”