I anticipate the rain just moments before it materializes. There is little warning, however. Perhaps there is a slight shift in the wind direction, or a subtle dimming of the sun. Out of the clear-blue autumn sky, large drops accelerate quickly into a steady pelting.
I observe dozens of people from a distance. They are caught off-guard in the park we are sharing by the lake, midday. Newspapers, lawn chairs, and plastic grocery bags become shields that they hold above their heads.
I make no such sudden move.
The warmth of the sun and the mingling coolness is refreshing. It is the best kind of rain. Out of nowhere, unexpected, smack dab in the middle of a beautiful afternoon. Like tears streaming in the midst of laughter, the culmination and mixing of opposite emotions. Perfect.
I lift my face skyward.
As I watch the dancing of rain and sunlight I feel as though I have been here before, with opposing seasons competing over me.
And then I remember.
I remember how the cancer diagnosis hit me 10 years prior. I was eight months pregnant when the doctor’s words washed over me: Malignant. Surgery. Pathology. Chemotherapy. You are young. Good prognosis. We’ll save the baby. Pelting rain. Interrupting my late 20s. Right there, in the middle of my sunny season.
I remember how I had reached for a shield. Something or someone to soften the blow and to protect me. And how nothing had worked.
I remember how I cried while the chemo entered my veins for the first time. And how I somehow sensed the storm was temporary. And necessary. I remember also how I learned to soothe my newborn daughter while attached to an IV pole. Her smile had inspired me when I was weak and tired and drained and angry to be facing two conflicting forces simultaneously.
She had been the sunshine in the midst of my terrible storm. I remember how I finally gave up control and submitted to the season, admitting God’s promises as still true. It had been scary and exhilarating. Cancer stirred things in me things I didn’t know I possessed: Courage. Perserverance. Maturity. Faith. Knowledge of who I was. Without status, without hair, without control. Without much of anything but me and God and a downpour that I hadn’t expected. That season had brought the best kind of rain: Cathartic.
My knees had stabled me during that time. I feel them weaken beneath me now. I am drenched and kneeling. The rain pelts harder through the open, autumn skies and I am not reaching for anything to block it. I know that my wobbly submission holds power and cleansing.
Then something miraculous happens. They begin to dance together ~ the sun and the rain, mingling with my own tears.
I rise slowly and order my steps forward, soaked and smiling. The perspective I had set out to find on this walk is unexpectedly gained. I am ready to face whatever awaits me on the other side of the lake and dusk that approaches now. I climb the stairs, cleansed in new viewpoint, and survey the dance of the drops and sunlight on the water.
I steady myself with the same strong, primitive railing from 10 years prior: Hebrews 11:1. “To live by faith and not by sight.” To believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
For the climate of the skies will surely change again. And HIS promises will still be true.
Even in the confusion of competing seasons.