I took this photo over the summer, standing on the back deck of a beach house. (You can tell by the picture that the beach we frequent is a “dunes and seagulls” kind of beach, not a “boardwalk and fries” kind of beach.) One side of the house is a tidal marsh, the other faces the ocean and a row of natural dunes.

The afternoon I took this picture I had been reading on the back screened-in porch, a glass of iced tea nearby, and a ceiling fan making it a warm and bug-free place. At one point, I glanced up and saw this squall line coming across the water. On our side of the bay, we still had sunshine and a gentle breeze. The rapidly-advancing storm made a contrast I could not help but see.

I know many folks who are “storm walking” right now. They are dealing with cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment, bereavement… the list goes on. It’s part of my life’s work as a chaplain to frequent these stormy times with others. Many times they are strangers, but sometimes, they are friends. I thought about these folks, and how I don’t always “get” what they are dealing with, (or when I’m in a “storm” of my own, they don’t “get” where I am struggling.) It sets up a communication barrier, which we all seem to try and bridge with assumptions and judgements, based on our personal experiences and perspectives. And it doesn’t work so well!

The same would be true for the political rhetoric that is erupting all around us. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, there is a paid ad by a special interest group or PAC that vehemently defends one position while mocking the opponent’s. Life just isn’t that easy. Not matter who you listen to, the world is not black and white! It is (dare I say it) shades of grey. 🙂

Have we really stopped listening to one another? Why is that? Are we so blinded by our own interests and political positions that we can’t understand one another? What happens our common sense, our good judgement and perspective?

I wonder…

  • How often have I made an assumption about things I am struggling with, (specifically, because I don’t feel helped or supported) because I was stuck inside the storm?
  • Do I recognize that there are times have I been safely in the sunshine and had no idea how much rain was falling on others?
  • When have I failed to notice that the conditions someone else faced blotted out their horizon?
  • Do I see with perspective, understanding and compassion? Or do I just say, “well, I guess they should have had an umbrella?”

I’m pondering and writing a sermon on the Beatitudes this week. I have no clue how this all fits in… but I wanted to share it. Because, you see, it seems to me that while we are ALL living in sunshine or rain, we can always choose to live under grace…

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