Learn to Like (IX)

#10 is here. Read it!

#9 Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day.

Finally! An easy one–I like sunsets and sunrises and I adore the sound of rain on the roof. In fact, it occasionally makes me weepy with joy. (Even more occasionally, it makes me want to go outside and dance around naked. Ahem.) Indeed, these all seem so eminently likeable, I can’t imagine anyone needing to learn to like them. I am a bit of a pagan, deep down, under the veneer of Mormonism and the soul-patina of an Anglican chorister, and it’s easier for me to find my way to the Creator through creation than almost any other way.

Still, I need to be reminded to notice sunrises and sunsets, not be blinded by their dailiness to the wonder of them. We Western modern types tend to notice weather when it is violent, when it batters our architectural and technological defenses until we cannot hang onto the illusion that we are in control of our world. And it isn’t just modern Westerners who like drama in our weather. Read III Nephi, II Kings–we humans are always looking for God in the earthquake and the thunder and the whirlwind. And God is forever pointing instead to quiet things–a seed, the wind that “bloweth where it listeth”, the silent drawing in the dust, the muddy pool at Siloam, the calmed sea and the living water, the sparrow and the lilies of the field.

Why should it be like this? Why is it so hard to remember to look at the world in wonder every day? Why do we need God to be so huge and fierce? Perhaps it is because we are hoping, endlessly, for a different story than the one the heavens are telling, over and over and over again. We want God to catch us up in the rapturous whirlwind because we know, in our bones and in the pit of our stomachs, that the story moves inexorably towards sunset, winter, death. We do not want to know, and so we make endless electric dawn, coal-fired summer warmth, umbrellas to keep the real rain off of us and machines to mimic the sound of false rain we can switch on and off. We beg God to keep us safe from harm and accident as we hurtle about in cars nourished by the carbon-generating deaths of ancient fields of lilies and the bones of our long-ago generations. We forget, endlessly, that the leaves’ autumn glory is their very death, that we chart our courses by stars that died eons before our birth.

And still the sun rises and sets, patiently, teaching us the only thing we need to know: birth is death and resurrection, the nourishing rain and the deathly snow are living water.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour ?
We count three hundred, but we misse :
There is but one, and that one ever.

–George Herbert

(and George Handley!)

Comments

  1. themormonbrit says:

    Wow. This is awesome. I think that perhaps it is not so much that we “need God to be” big and powerful and fierce, as it is the fact that it is these huge events, these natural disasters, these magnificent displays of the power of nature strike a chord somewhere deep within our souls and make us so unmistakeably aware of some higher power, greater than ourselves.

  2. ……….. quotable

  3. sighing so much. THANK you.

  4. Psychic Head Industries says:

    Awesome awesome post!

  5. This is the way to do it. Comment while listening to Ralph Vaughn Williams. Lovely–the music and the prose.
    I’ve always loved sunrises and sunsets. I saw a glorious one on the road to Utah from Idaho, and photographed it multiple times with my phone. How futile and silly to think I could capture the colors with my camera! No, the sunset was meant for that day only–where it could be three-dimensional and ever changing. My sweet husband takes pictures of everything that enchants him–and EVERYTHING enchants him. It’s like he wants to preserve time itself. But time moves beyond us and sweeps us into things we couldn’t have imagined–both the hard to bear and the to-beautiful-for-words. The dying autumn leaves are magnificent. And dying people, swaying between here and there even in their sleep, have a particular glory. My brother took my father to see the canyon, to breathe in the river-scented air, to be a part of the outside world for a few minutes. It was like the Wilder’s stage manager leading Emily to the sights she hardly realized she loved when she was living. “Oh, my butternut tree!”

  6. Beautiful, Kristine.

  7. Thank you for making me read this poem again.

    April Rain Song

    Let the rain kiss you
    Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
    Let the rain sing you a lullaby
    The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
    The rain makes running pools in the gutter
    The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
    And I love the rain.

    Langston Hughes

  8. Kristine, I have so loved this whole series. This one was particularly beautiful and surpassingly wise. Thank you.

  9. …and you linked to one of my favorite pieces of music, sung by my favorite singer in the entire physical Universe! Thanks for the beautiful post, as well as for giving more people the unutterable joy of listening to the voice of Sir Thomas Allen.

  10. Great post here, Kristine. I especially appreciate the bit about how we sheltered, comfortable moderns tend only to notice the God of a loud, dramatic creation. I remember, as a fourteen-year-old at Lowell’s boys ranch, the thunderstorms that passed through Teton Valley, watching and listening to them from inside the old bunkhouses. Structures built just soundly enough to keep us all safe and dry, but not too safe, or too dry.

  11. Rachel Esplin Odell says:

    #5 Margaret, I always have maintained that Idaho has the best sunsets. Some of the most spiritual experiences of my youth were watching sunsets on our farm in Blackfoot, Idaho. Something about the desert and the mountains and the wide open spaces…

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