September 4th, 2011  “It’s Always Sunny Above the Clouds”

This sounds crazy, but this weekend has been perfect. I am down in Gulf Shores, Alabama and I am stuck right dab in the middle of a tropical storm system named “Lee”. It has been raining since we got here on Friday night and the 6o mile per hour winds have barely let up. The old house that we are renting is perfectly situated about 50 yards away from the Gulf Coast water… an ocean that is typically as clear and calm as a lake, but this weekend is turning and churning like the wildest Atlantic day. Huge white capped waves are rolling in and rearranging the coast. What the water isn’t doing, the wind is… sandblasting everything, bending and shaking the palm trees and sea grass, and covering over the steps leading down to the beach.

Fortunately the house is built high on pylons. The chance of flooding is slim, but the intensity of the wind has caused our little pink wooden house to rock from side to side… much like the floating boat dock my parent’s used to have at their house at the lake… the one that that used to make us feel sea sick. So far the house has succeeded in keeping the weather out of our safe haven inside, but it has been complaining about the burden…lots of creaking and groaning. We have casted more than a few wary glanced at each other… looks that silently ask, “Are we going to be ok? Or are we going to wash or blow away?”

Truth be told, I am a little bit afraid of the ocean on a good day. When I was a little kid I couldn’t get enough of the wild water… and the wilder the better. I would be out in the ocean jumping and diving from the minute I woke up until I was called in to eat… and then I would head right back out again until I was called in to eat again. Then if I could manage it I would go out again to play in the shallow water until bedtime. There was a simple pattern to our vacation days… days as innocent and naive as my childhood. But then I grew up and got scared of things. I saw movies about sharks and watched the news that showed devestation caused by tsunamis, I was sent by my Insurance company employer to see and work the havoc reaked by Hurrican Andrew in Homestead and Miami, Florida. I was married to someone who always fears for the worst, and no matter how much I want to hope for the best, that kind of pessimism wears off and wears a person down. The power of fear (false evidence appearing real) filled words and the real uncontrollable nature that much water is capable of frightens me. I am a country girl who feels at home surrounded by hills and trees and mountain streams. Mountain streams and lakes are just the right amount of water for me.

I don’t love to get in the water like I did as a child, in fact, I barely get in unless I am guilted into it. But I enjoy watching my children… and I love to walk. Long walks on the beach are one of my very favorite things in the world to do. I love the way the sand feels under my bare feet and the way they sun warms my face. I love to see the occasional dolphin or the complaining sea gulls… and of course the Pelicans. My favorite. I love that I can walk with my eyes closed for yards and yards and not fear running into anything. A few days at the beach are a perfect respite… but then I am always ready to go back to the hills where I feel safe between the valleys and sheilded under my canopy of old shade trees.

So, how could being at the ocean during a tropical storm be perfect? How could the fear of being washed away or blown away be a good thing? First, I was with some of the people I love. Second I got to sleep late… I ate what I wanted… I read, I wrote… for a few minutes I was able to go outside. The rain had stopped yesterday afternoon, and I went and ran on the beach. It pushed me down the shore like a ball rolling down a hill… and then I turned around to come back. I was headed back against the wind, and it was almost impossible to get back. I could lean against the gust and it could literally hold me up. I was exhausted when I cam back in…it felt wonderful. Then today, the rain is mostly gone… the wind is still whipping, but there are moments when there is a break in the clouds and the blue is shining through. I took a little walk and thought about how life is like this storm. It was relentless… It seemed to never change… just beating down and beating down and causing worry and chaos. But it is only for a little while. It may seem like it is never going to get better, to clear up… but it will. And then behind the rough weather will be calm days, clear days and blue skies. We can’t always see it, but the sky is always calm and clear and bright and blue above the clouds. Hold on. Be patient. Hunker down… ride it out, if you can surround yourself with people that you love. Take care of yourself. Do what you can do. Be still and wait. Tomorrow will come… it may not be clear tomorrow, but there is a next day, and a next day. I don’t know how many days I will have to wait until the storm in my own life passes, but as long as I can see a glimmer of blue every now and then that reminds me that it is temporary and above the clouds the sky is beautiful, and as long as I find joy in the little things, and as long as I have people around me that I love and that love me, I can wait.

This weekend as we wait out the storm and celebrate with rest and relaxation this Labor Day 2011, I have to be reminded of the very verse that is so near and dear to my heart right now in my life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”Jeremiah 29:1 

That is what I have. I can’t change the past… it is passed. But I can have hope that there will be brighter days ahead, and that I can weather out any storm that the world turns and churns around me because I have love and peace surrounding me… no matter what.  




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