It’s been raining for days and days and days. The sky gray with clouds. Puddles turning to ponds in the backyard. The bluebirds have sought shelter. Even the ducks swimming in the pond out back dart this way and that, pelted by the deluge that lessens then grows but just won’t give up.
I confess my mood falters with the growing gloom. Damp like the pages of the magazine that had the misfortune to be left outside on the screened in porch. When will it stop? When can I go outside? Where is the sun, the warmth, the inhale of clean breath I remember from a day so long ago?
Wait. What’s that? Could it be? It is! The glow of sunshine through the window. Throw open the shutters. Oh my goodness, run out in the yard, skip to the mailbox, spin in circles. Gather the whole 360. It has NEVER felt so good to be in a new day!!
Ahhh, I write on my chalk message board. Who can think of anything better to say?
Thank you, Thursday, for being gorgeous. Clear and sunny. Not a drop of humidity. Perfect temperature. As if this day was made strictly to my very own specifications.
… For a moment, I feel guilty for loving the day so much. I mean really, there are many days much like this in central Florida. There they awake to sunshine, yawn and go on about their business. Treating each day pretty much like the rest, one day indistinguishable, from the other. In the constancy, they are unaware of their good fortune. But today here in Virginia, I celebrate…
And then, for a glancing moment — really a split second — I look up in my reverie and wonder if this might be the way it happens up there in the heavens amongst the onlooking saints. That the day-by-day good-doers are applauded as one would a Florida day, unsurpassed but unsurprising, while the day-by-day sin-committers — the ones trudging through the driving rain, soaked to the skin, clouded over and covered in mud…
Oh, on that day! The day they see the light and turn their face to it, now THAT is a day like today. A run, skip and twirl kind of day. A day God dances in the driveway, too.
The driveway is covered with ice as I skate along it to roll out the trash bin. I have my hood pulled up over my head against the cold rain that is falling. My rubber soled shoes have just enough traction. There is a fascinating compression of water under the surface layer of ice that reminds me of a time snow shoeing when I walked across a frozen creek, watching the water flow beneath. Knowing that asphalt lies at bottom here gives me a bit more confidence.
Having parallel parked the bin in the slush distributed by a few passing cars, I take off a glove to extract the two letters meant for the mailbox that I have tucked under my sweatshirt against the patter of rain. The box is frozen shut with a night’s worth’s of freezing. There will be no mailbox access.
Back I go, letters in hand, sliding and crunching and swishing along. I stoop to collect the paper and dedicate my focus to my feet and my balance. My hood and the not yet daylight cover me in darkness, but for the two dim lights affixed next to the garage. I feel the patter on my back and hear the rain spitting on the drive.
Bop. An unseen hand taps me on the head. I peer out from under the side of my hood. It’s a low hanging branch from our crepe myrtle, bent under the weight of the icy accumulation. It’s fingers coated in a shimmering glow, almost as if it is a divine hand. I am stopped. Not angered or injured, just amused and bedazzled. Now, by the whole tree that is covered in a see-through negligee.
Must get a photo, of course, because this must be shared!
I re-emerge, camera in hand, to record the moment and snap a view of branch and tree. But, look at that. Just beyond, are the angels on the lawn, happily announcing the coming King on their snowy hillside. Our neighbor’s lantern even gives them a divine glow.
I just stood out in a driving snow and sleet storm and prayed, “cleanse me from my sins and clothe me in righteousness.” Yep, right there on the podium of my porch I lifted my arms and face to the sky. Icy pellets pecked at my arms, my hands, my neck my face. And all I could say was, “in the name of Jesus Christ let me be forgiven.”
And the storm responded, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”
Now what kind of encounter was that?! I’m no mystic, no monk, no nun, not even a pastor. I’m just a low-on-the-totem-pole human in need of a great deal of grace. And now I am hearing God chuckling because He knows how He got me out there.
The snow began with big, beautiful, ungainly flakes. Sort of snow flying saucers landing in my backyard. At first there were just a couple. I thought they were leaves blowing. But then there were more and then more. Large, lovely, floating and inviting.
“Come see me,” they said. “Come catch me on your tongue.”
And so I wandered out, opened my hands and my mouth – yes, of course, and waited for the gentle covering. But they were not gentle. At once they became smaller and rounder. They landed in my hands with a thud. Little ice balls. Where was the lattice work? The floating beauty that invited me.
It had been replaced by a freezing, cleansing rain.
And that is the way with me and God. He invites me into a moment of ease and loveliness and then shows me what’s meant for me. A moment of encounter. A moment when I am no longer the initiator. He is. And my human senses are set aside but an internal listening is tuned in. One that bids me speak. One that even bypasses my listening.
Direct deposit of a sort. All at once it’s there but I don’t remember hearing it.
Giving thanks in the storm for refreshment and renewed hearing of a message I needed to know again.