Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sudden Storms

As we began the hike to Taggart Lake, the weather was perfect. Sunny. Slightly breezy. Definitely chilly, as the wind swept across snow-capped mountains in Grand Teton National Park. The level trail from the parking area soon became steeper and rockier. But that was no problem. We simply slowed our pace and stepped more carefully over the rocks. We walked across a pedestrian bridge that spanned a thundering creek. We passed a lush pasture where horses were peacefully grazing. We photographed marmots sunning themselves on boulders beside the path.

After nearly an hour, I said, “It’s going to take us a long time to get back to the car. Hadn’t we better turn around now?”

“We’ve come this far,” my husband replied. “Let’s go on.”

I followed, my trepidation increasing all the while, as, without warning, the weather began to change. By the time we reached the lake, a mixture of rain and frozen precipitation was showering us. “Let’s go—now!” I said.

“We’ll wait,” my husband said. “This storm will pass. Then, we’ll take pictures of the lake.”

As the sudden storm continued, I pulled my lined and hooded coat more tightly around me, thankful I’d had the good sense to wear it, though until then I’d felt foolish doing so.

Initially, I regretted being unable to photograph the placid lake nestled at the foot of the majestic mountains, now veiled by clouds; but my disappointment lifted as I began to notice the unexpected, yet beautiful, delights around me. Soon, I was happily snapping pictures of ice crystals nestled among the needles of pine trees and in the crevices of fallen logs.

After fifteen minutes passed, with no sign the storm was abating, we left the bit of shelter the trees had provided and set out on the open path to the parking lot. But within another ten minutes or so, the sunshine returned, causing me to regret having left the lake before photographing it.

Although I’d missed (by minutes!) the photos I wanted, I came away from that experience with something far better—an understanding that even when sudden, uninvited “storms” come into our lives, we can either fear them and wish they’d go away or else we can begin to look for things that give us joy and hope.

And, as I was reminded, there is something to be savored in every situation. Learning to look for the good will help us weather the storms of life. Perhaps the good we’ll see is a faithful friend who stays beside us during the storm. Perhaps it’s the assurance that “This, too, shall pass.” Perhaps it’s experiencing pockets of peace in the midst of a raging storm. Perhaps it’s the sight of a flower flourishing in a difficult place, reminding us we can do likewise.

In every storm of life, we can choose our response. We can fear the discomfort. We can rage against it. We can blame others for the misery we feel. Or we can give thanks for those things that delight us and give us hope.

No matter what our situation, we, like the Apostle Paul, can learn to “get along happily,” once we’ve come to this realization: God will take care of me and supply all that I need. (See Philippians 4:13-20.)

© 2006 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill. For permission to use, please contact her.