A Needed Darkness, Rain Moving In

Curtains Rain file0001774425054Before sunrise the intense heat and humidity of the past few days was broken by the cooling air that preceded a storm.

Gathering myself into the morning, while waiting for the coffee to brew, I opened all the windows. When I lifted the sash in the oratory, the breeze drew the sheers delicately against the screens and then, just as softly, floated them back and up into the room.

I breathed deeply the fresh unconditioned air.

The rain started with a drizzle. The thunder rumbled long and distant, then near, then rolled past and away.

I didn’t know what to expect of the storm. The wind was picking up, making the tree limbs sway, and the thunder had become more frequent. I looked at the southwest sky, saw it was evenly gray and lacked the blackish-green mottling of danger. The birds continued their morning songs—a good indication of a regular rain—and so I was unconcerned as I sat down and picked up the breviary.

With windows opened wide the breeze moved easily through the upstairs hermitage. I listened to the rain drops plink on the aluminum window sills; it steadily grew into a persistent thrumming.

It was a needed darkness, a good storm, a refreshing rain. Sipping my coffee I prayed:

Dear Lord,

I thank you for the storms that move through life. Though there is darkness, there is assurance of its passing. You send the rain to cleanse, the thunder to make us attentive, and the wind to remind us that all things move according to your plan.

Although I do not like the darkness, I know your storms draw me down and away from the often consuming blaze of this world. And for every storm that moves across my heart, I will embrace it as a time to patiently wait for your return.

I pray to be strong enough to hold fast when storms become intense. And if I grow weary, to know I am not alone and to call out to angels, saints, and friends to shore me up.

I praise you Lord for dark nights and stormy days that deepen my desire for you.


(June 30, 2013)


(Image by cgiraldez at morgefile.com.)


Unexpected Warmth

Looking ahead into the new year of 2013, I’ve pulled a reflection from my latest book Cultivating God’ Garden through Lent. From the past I share a lesson of timing.

Image purchased from photographer, Travis Juriga.

Unexpected Warmth (Wednesday of the First Week of Lent)

New Years Day 2011

Leaning against the dented aluminum siding near the back door were snow shovels and a covered pail of deicer. They had replaced the garden spade and rake. It was the beginning of January, and here in the upper Midwest it’s usually bitter cold and often covered with snow and ice. Last week Christmas was white and offered familiar images often seen on seasonal cards. The snow glistened in the sun and at night sparkled with colors from decorative outdoor lights. In the rural areas that surround my home, the fields glowed with the light from the moon.

Winter moved in as it always does. The plants go dormant and my immediate world slows and I become quieter. It is a peace-filled time after the bustle of Christmas. It is the time of year when I draw down and snuggle into a nest of pillows. Wrapped in an afghan I read, pray, reflect, and imagine.

This year appeared to be no different. Six inches of snow had fallen two days ago, adding a fresh layer to the existing three. The new snow framed the crèche of the outdoor nativity, my inheritance from my grandmother’s garage. Outside my window the birds were perched on the Serviceberry’s branches near the feeders, with their feathers puffed up and little heads drawn down.

Today, though, was unusual for winter. The steady rain occasionally worked itself into a downpour. It wasn’t a freezing rain but one that thawed. It was nearly fifty degrees outside. Rivulets of water grew into large flowing puddles as the snow and ice melted, flooding the road and ditches. It was also the first time I had experienced a thunderstorm on New Year’s Day. It was a turbulent and forceful storm, the garden-chimes dancing and jerking with each gust.

The second day after the rains and warm temperatures, the lawn and Creeping Veronica showed green instead of their depleted winter tan. Even the cardinals and finches were singing. It was an unexpected gift creating a hope-filled feeling of spring.

I sensed awkwardness about this feeling—a falseness—and recognized it as fleeting joy. This unusual warm spell was an event out of sync; it brought short-term happiness that was not in balance with nature. It was not the appropriate time for the gift of spring. The truth was that this aberrant weather could cause more harm than good by encouraging sap to flow and buds to set, too tender to survive the impending cold to come.

I recalled times in my life where immediate gratification did not bring a continuing happiness. Those events too were a gift out of season, often bearing false hope. And on occasions when impulsiveness trumped clarity of thought, they did more harm than good.

There is a lasting joy in waiting and in hoping for a gift in due season. Timing matters, and the timing that matters most is God’s timing. I recognized the masquerade of those past few days for what they were: a foreshadowing of what was to come and not the true event that it pretended to be.

I love spring with all of its new life and developing growth. I appreciate it even more after a long winter of rest.


“At Christmas I no more desire a rose

Than wish a snow in May’s newfangled mirth;

But like of each thing that in season grows.”

~William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost