by Pastor Sara Spohr
Imagine an 11-year-old shouting this with the purest kind of happiness. Imagine two people just smacked in the face with gratitude because of a momentary peak of sunshine and blue sky.
In August, I spent four days backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail with my niece Anna. We had an amazing and unforgettable time. The list of things I am grateful for because of that trip is long and the stories to tell are many. But for today, I want to relate the joy and gratitude we found in just a brief moment of blue sky.
This blue sky was gifted to us at about 5:30 p.m. on day three of our hike. You have to know that the night before we laid awake in our tent listening to rain and thunder. You should also know that we woke up to a thick fog and the certainty of a rainy day. We debated even heading out on a hike that day knowing that we’d be wet and miserable at some point. We ended up hiking 13 miles through mist and fog. We hiked all the way to Carlton Peak only to have our view considerably limited by cloud cover. We hiked home again on spent legs fueled only by filtered river water and Jolly Ranchers. It never actually rained that day but we were soaking wet from dew, mist, and our own sweat. We longed for sunshine to dry us out and lift our spirits.
When we arrived at our campsite, I put on dry, warm clothes and took a nap in the hammock. Anna set to building a swing out of our bear bag rope and a stick. We each found contentment in closing hours of our day, but when the clouds broke and Anna came running with her gleeful message, “Blue sky Sara, there is just a little bit of blue sky!”, we were filled with a new joy we didn’t realize we needed so much. We were filled with gratitude for light, warmth, and for drying clothes. What a gift.
Actually, both parts of our day were a gift. In the cloud and mist we saw new views of the river and trail, and we came upon a stand of red pines shrouded in the morning mist that was absolutely breathtaking. We also found strength in our bodies and encouragement from each other that left us feeling accomplished and satisfied. Then, in that moment of sunshine and blue skies, we were filled with a joy and hope that we would never have appreciated so fully without the cloudy day. In reflecting on that day, there was peace in every moment. Some of it was obvious, some of it we only saw when we looked back.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NRSV)
I take away a little bit of encouragement to look with intention at the cloudy and uncertain moments in my daily life for a new perspective. I am also reminded that I can find a truer kind of joy in the small gifts of sunshine in my work, relationships, and daily tasks. The peace of God is at work in all of our moments both sunshine and clouds, thanks be to God!