Friday, November 20, 2009
It has been a truly wonderful November.
I was praying with two friends this morning. We pray for our kids, who are in public school. We love our kids, and we get together once a week to pray for them. We love our kids very much, and we send them to public school, and we pray for them.
Anyway, in our prayer time, one of my friends prayed and thanked God for this glorious November, and I realized how right she was. We had one of the coldest, rainiest summers on record. There were two weeks of hot weather in August, and then I don't really remember September (hey, that rhymes!). October was bad... cold, rainy and in the 40's for most of the month. Now November has been sunny and mild with most days above 50 degrees.
Yes, there are clouds in this picture. There are usually clouds. A sunny day is one where the sun peeks between the clouds on and off throughout the day. Can I tell you something? I have never in my life seen people who appreciate good weather more than central New Yorkers. If you get a warm, sunny day, everybody literally drops everything and goes outside to celebrate. If we central New Yorkers were to move to, say, San Diego, we would never get anything done. We would have no idea what to do with all that good weather. We would probably die from overexertion because we would not be able to go inside and rest with all that great weather going on outside.
The picture above shows the view (if you can really call it that) from my front door looking east. A moment before, there were kids playing ball in shorts and a biker, but it took me too long to get the light settings right, and I missed them. Even reveling in the day, you can get cold and need to go inside.
I was trying to capture the time of day when the sun is very low in the sky, and its light comes streaming in from the west, sneaking under the edge of the last cloud, illuminating the neighborhood in a most beautiful and exotic way. Cloud cover traps the light between itself and the earth. The light glows as if it were in a tunnel, making flimsy brown weeds shine like gold. Unfortunately, I did not see any shining weeds to photograph, but I'm sure they were out there along the edge of the freeway.
This picture is looking west from my back door. Our house is built on an angle, which actually kind of bothers me. But that's beside the point. See the sun... the source of the light?
It looks bleaker than it is. Really it was spell-binding.
Maybe you don't see the beauty in this. That's OK. I appreciate it because I know how bad it can get. Sometimes I think God gave us Christmas at Christmastime to lessen the brunt of winter darkness. These pictures were taken at 4 p.m. Now it is 4:30, and it's dark out. The darkness will come earlier and earlier until we get to the end of December.
Being able to appreciate things is usually related to having gone without them at some point. People from Florida or California might not understand why a New Yorker would be excited about the November we've been having.
It's not just this way with the weather. Rough stretches can open our minds and hearts in many ways. I was just conversing with my husband this morning about how the kindest, most empathetic people are always the people who have suffered through something. People who have never lived a hard day in their lives usually aren't capable of understanding someone else's pain. Jesus died on the cross for us all, and He suffered all of our pain.
James tells us, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds." (James 1:2). Trials tender us. They help us to apprehend and appreciate beauty and goodness when they come. They teach us empathy and cleanse the impurities from our souls. They develop wisdom in us and ultimately make us like Christ.
You can have a wrong response to a trial. You can let it make you angry, bitter and ugly. But if you embrace it, learn from it, draw near to God through it, it can be the best beauty treatment you ever took. And it can help you feel the grace in a glorious November sky in Syracuse, NY.