It’s the middle of the evening on a rainy, overcast Saturday, and I’m curled up in my blue-flowered bedspread trying to distract myself from some internal sorrows with an episode of Sherlock. (Considering that this particular installment was all about betrayal, deception and blackmail, I don’t know what I was thinking would be uplifting... oh wait, it was the whole Benedict-Cumberbatch-in-a-killer-trenchcoat-with-that-deep-British-voice-thing… I remember now).
My plan wasn’t working too well, and right in the midst of it the lady whose basement apartment I live in comes down to inform me that there is a tornado warning and we should all be alert for the sirens in case other members of the household fall asleep and fail to hear them.
Pondering the irony of tumultuous weather coinciding with a particularly painful internal storm on my end, I finished the episode, relaxed with some prayer and Scripture verses and shed a few tears (tears completely unconnected with the fact that Cumberbatch is already taken, ladies) before turning out the light and letting the rain lull me to sleep. Nothing was necessarily resolved as I drifted off, but I’ve learned by now that emotions, like rainstorms, often have to run their course.
The stormy atmosphere hadn’t completely lifted by the next morning, but the little residue that remained cleared up by early afternoon; at 2:30 pm the sun was shining, the sky was mostly clear and the wind was refreshing enough to tempt me to sit on the porch and enjoy a quiet moment. Like the weather, the forecast for my soul was looking up: my mind had cleared up tremendously, the sunny side of my personality was reasserting itself and my heart felt much lighter.
I was enjoying the beauty all around me when it struck me how good an example nature is of what goes on inside of us. No matter how good a life someone leads, there are always dark moments, times when even the faintest ray of light is covered up by clouds of despair, pain, turmoil, or even just stress and worry. We all experience inclement weather of the soul, ranging from relatively short rainy seasons to full-blown tornados of the heart, but either way, they are there.
The thing is, the rain never lasts forever, and who would believe unless they had seen it (like I did today) that so much beauty could follow a storm? The same branches that had bent in the rushing torrent of the night were now dancing in a much cheerier wind, and the same sky that had previously sheltered tremendous claps of thunder was now filled with sunshine.
These reflections remind me of something J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in his epic Lord of the Rings trilogy: in a moving speech from The Two Towers, Sam Gamgee says, “But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”
It’s true. No storm lasts forever, and the sun that comes out after it’s all over is a beautiful relief. It occurred to me as I sat and drank all of this in that, if you and I could only hold onto the truth that beauty can and does follow the storm, we would find the rainy season far more meaningful and certainly more peaceful.
There’s something else that’s always true about the rain, if you’ve ever noticed: it helps things grow. The grass is always greener after a rainstorm and there is always a new freshness and vigor to nature after the tumult of a storm. Strangely enough, I’ve always found the same to be true of myself after a particularly tumultuous season. Not only does beauty follow the pain simply because it is the cycle of our lives, but the beauty is a direct result of the pain. Now, of course, unlike nature, we have to make the choice to cultivate the beauty. But instead of despising the storm, we can look at it as an opportunity.
So if you’re in a dark season, feeling covered up by the clouds, let me offer a weather prediction: I can’t say how long the storm will last, but there’s a guarantee of sunny skies eventually. And when they do come, the view will be even better than before.