Here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I live, we have been having cool weather. The monsoon season is upon us and this year, unlike the past three or four years, there really is rain.
Every night for a week, there have been long, drenching storms. It has been a great reprieve from the desert heat. The sun is held back by clouds, unexpected free-floating drops of water land on my neck, fall on the parched and waiting earth, even fill puddles on sidewalks and mountain trails. It is good to have a rest from the summer intensity. It is nice not to be so hot.
Interestingly enough, things also have slowed down a bit at work, at the hospice agency where I serve as a chaplain. For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be as much drama, not as much deep suffering. The conditions of our patients have steadied. Families aren’t quite as dysfunctional. There aren’t as many serious needs, and I have to say it feels nice to have a break.
I read once that the rules of whitewater rafting apply to everyday life. Rules like: “Don’t be surprised if the boat doesn’t go where you want it to go,” “Never stop paddling, even when it seems hopeless,” and “If you get into trouble, don’t panic.” Others include “Everyone paddles furiously to get somewhere but really the current is what takes you downstream” and “If you do go under, let go of everything; eventually you’ll come back up.”
Perhaps, however, the one rule I am considering today is the one that seems most relevant to my current life situation; it is the one about calm waters. It states, “Rest when you get to a calm place because there is going to be more whitewater.”
That’s what this week feels like. A pool of restful water. A place just to lie back and float. A break from all the pain and suffering and loss. It is a place to let me catch my breath, and I am thankful. I shall breathe deeply of these kind moments, feel grateful for what is not troubled and unsettled, close my eyes and relax. I will lift my face to the open sky and enjoy the falling rain.
I am not, however, fooled by the cloudy day and the calm river. I am not lulled into thinking this has become my constant and forever reality. I’ve certainly lived long enough to know a few things, to expect and understand a few things, and I know even as I float and rest and feel well at ease, the river shifts and turns just ahead.
However, I need not be worried. I need not brace myself for the worst. I need not ruin these smooth waters by being anxious about what is around the corner. But I do need to understand what all good rafters know. I do need to be prepared. It may be calm now, but there will be more whitewater ahead.
Lynne Hinton is a minister and author: firstname.lastname@example.org
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