Last Friday I woke up to the “perfect morning” – quiet, cool, overcast and drizzly. I had an hour before my walking buddy would arrive so I decided to sit on the front porch and read and, of course, enjoy the great weather. I grabbed my new copy of Blue Like Jazz, a book I’ve read before but wanted to reread. It seemed like the perfect book to read in the rain, too, because it’s author, Donald Miller, and I share that mystical experience of transformation that comes from living in Oregon. Reading Donald Miller in the rain is like stirring real cream into your coffee – it becomes richer, smoother and tastier. Except…
Except when I tried to read a couple of things ruined the mood for me. First, there was a steady drip from the gutter, hitting this annoyingly-placed plastic drip system cap. It only took half a minute of this before Proverbs 19:13 came to mind. “The contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.” Drip-drip-drip-drip! Nip-nip-nip-nip! Yap-yap-yap-yap! OK! I get it!!
The second thing that kept me from enjoying a good read in good weather was my own dripping thoughts. I was complaining inwardly that this beautiful weather wouldn’t last very long…not days or weeks or months like it would have on Gilesford Street. This was, afterall, Arizona.
Who knows how long I would have waded in this puddle of pity? Thankfully, I happened to glance up to the cactus-covered hill across the street. It was then that Creation taught me (another) lesson.
It’s a lesson my mom (and probably a few teachers) also taught me. It’s about posture. Slouching, like dripping, conveys a negative message. There, in the rain, the cacti were standing straight and tall with their arms stretched upward as if thanking God for this rare liquid treat. That wasn’t the lesson, though. The lesson was in realizing that cacti have the exact same posture in the blazing sunshine.
So, cacti seem to know something about contentment. I wondered if this would be true about Creation’s specimens in opposite climates…say, where there’s more rain than sunshine. What about those fir trees in Oregon? Yes, their posture, too, is commendable. They stand tall and erect, their arms stretched out and even a little downward in a dignified humbleness. Their service to their Creator is to shed the nourishing, wet blessing upon other life. When the sun does come out, they don’t shrink and shrivel. There they stand, still dignified and humble, their impressive evergreen-ness all the more stunning in the sunshine.
By the time I figured out this lesson in contentment, my walking partner had arrived and Donald was still a boy in Houston. I can’t help but believe, however, that he might approvingly raise a cup of Burnside coffee to a lady who learned a lesson from cacti and firs.