We had weather in the seventies today: gorgeous. Â In the space of a week, the tree out back has begun blooming, and it could Â not be prettier. Â It’s hard to think of any sight that is more innately hopeful than an explosion of spring blossoms against sunlight and blue sky.
In church this morning, I realized midway through the first reading that I was sitting in a patch of light from the stained glass windows way up high. Â Â I luxuriated in it like a cat, and was sorry when it shifted ever so slightly away from me.
After Mass, while the boys had their preschool catechism, Scott and I got some drinks and pastries at a bakery near the church and then walked up Fillmore towards the park. Â People were out walking dogs, pushing strollers, sitting at outside restaurant tables for brunch: it was one of those warm San Francisco mornings that feels just like a gift. Â We headed for Alta Plaza Park and climbed to the top of the hill and looked out at the bay, Â with white triangles of sails floating on the blue water. Â It reminded me of those weekend mornings long ago, before kids and before marriage even, when we had nothing more pressing to do than join the crowds on Fillmore and enjoy a brunch in the sun. Â We sat on a park bench and ate with the city at our feet, with the Jesuit residence looking like a Rhineland castle on a hill and the houses looking like pastel candyboxes with white trim. Â It was glorious. Â I kept remembering a quote from Christopher Isherwood’s book Goodbye to Berlin, about how you can’t help smiling in such beautiful weather.
And yet as I luxuriated in the sunlight, I thought too about the weather of the last few days, in other parts of the country, and how it has been anything but lovely. Â I thought of the lives lost and the homes destroyed and the despair that so many people are feeling, and I sent silent prayers to those people and those communities. Â It felt terribly incongruous, those extremes of weather, the gentleÂ sunlight and the inexorable tornado, the white blossoms and the dark twisting clouds. Â I thought of how much a life holds: days of sunlight and days of storms, and we each get a turn at each. Â Some people, for whatever reason or no reason, have to face storms that are far more dark and deadly than the others. Â It isn’t fair, and I don’t know why it has to be that way. Â And it is easy to rail and rage at the injustice of these storms, and yes, I have had bleak days of my own life when I have done exactly that.
But I thought of a saying I recently read, attributed to St. Maximilian Kolbe, about how love is the only creative response to suffering. Â Â And the more I ponder that, the more I think it is true. Â I’m not sure how to love these people who have suffered so much from the tornadoes except to pray for them, so I did. Â On this sunlit day, I hoped that they would find a ray of light in the embraces of those who love them, and warmth in the offers of supplies and food from those who still have something to give, and a kind of comfort in the knowledge that faraway people are thinking of them, and praying for them, and willing the sun to shine.