Friday, February 20, 2009
Two scenes in nature strike me over and over again. One is the sun slipping quietly and brightly into the vast Pacific ocean. The other is the sun slipping quietly and brightly into the wide, barren, cold, Midwest winter prairie. In the fertile valleys, lush summertime, and dense forests, the sunsets just aren't quite the same. I rarely see the sun rise, or that might strike me too...
On my way to work yesterday, I saw the sun falling, in all of its red and orange glory. It was striking because there was so much of it to see. The corn/soybean fields are empty. The trees are bare. The billowy, white summer clouds are absent. The wind is blowing hard like it does here all year. There's not much in the way of seeing the sun set!
When almost everything else is stripped away - whether it is mountains or just leaves, that's when I re-discover the (best or worst) things that have been there all along. Barrenness or loneliness or despair are no fun, as a prairie pioneer or ocean sailor could tell you. But they can show things for what they really are.
When my mom passed away, I found the friends that were right by my side. And a sense of God unlike before or after.
When I moved to cities where I knew almost no one - four times so far - I realized that family (and extended family) can make any place feel like home, right from the start. Oh, and that first new friend.
And as I watch my family and friends encounter low points in their lives, I see their strengths, their values, their work ethic, their faith, their courage, their grace under pressure all highlighted in a new way.
For me, the challenge is to remember that the people, values, and faith that are so obvious in the barren times are still there and important even during the good and easy times.
Come summer, somewhere behind those vibrant leaves and mountainous vacation spots, the all-important sun is still brightly and faithfully setting. I've got to remember to look for it.