Sunlight and storms

We had weather in the seventies today: gorgeous.  In the space of a week, the tree out back has begun blooming, and it could  not be prettier.  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.    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.  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.  We headed for Alta Plaza Park and climbed to the top of the hill and looked out at the bay,  with white triangles of sails floating on the blue water.   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.  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.   It was glorious.  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.   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.  It felt terribly incongruous, those extremes of weather, the gentle  sunlight and the inexorable tornado, the white blossoms and the dark twisting clouds.   I thought of how much a life holds: days of sunlight and days of storms, and we each get a turn at each.  Some people, for whatever reason or no reason, have to face storms that are far more dark and deadly than the others.  It isn’t fair, and I don’t know why it has to be that way.  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.    And the more I ponder that, the more I think it is true.   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.  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.

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