2.04.2011

All Summer in a Day

By my calcuation, this is at least the 6th straight day of dreary gray skies and/or rain. Today it has rained without stopping. It's also cold, something that we Southerners do not tolerate very well. Folks in other parts of the country are digging themselves out of ridiculous amounts of snowfall. And did I mention it's February? Which comes right after January.

All these things together add up to the mid-winter blahs. Raise your hand if you've got them, and then remind yourself that nicer days are a-comin'.

Whenever we go through a lengthy rainy spell, I think about people in Washington and wonder how they manage. And I also sometimes remember a strange TV program I saw when I was a kid, based on a short story called "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury. If you're interested, the text is here, but I will summarize:

People have colonized the planet Venus, where it has rained nonstop for the past seven years. (I probably just lost some of you at the mention of people living on Venus, but please follow me here). A classroom of 9-year-old kids is giddy with anticipation because today, the sun is supposed to shine for two hours, and two hours only. These children have lived on rainy Venus all their lives, except for one little girl named Margot. She's different from the rest, and she remembers the sun from when she lived on Earth. She wants to see it more than anything.

The other children torment Margot in their jealousy, especially one boy named William. Just before the sun comes out and the teacher sends the class outside to revel in it, mean little William and the others lock Margot in a closet.

The children play in the glorious sunlight, and they forget all about her...until the raindrops begin again, apparently to pour for seven more years. Then they remember what they did to her and are filled with shame. They walk down the hall to let her out of the closet. And that's how the story ends.

The TV version adds a bit more. A quiet, repentant William brings Margot a bouquet of newly-bloomed flowers, and in a sign of her forgiveness, she accepts them.

It is basically a heartbreaking story. So sad for a kid to miss the sunshine for so long and then to miss it for real.

These recent days seem a bit like Venus, or as Bradbury says colorfully, "...thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands."

But then again: how often, in the oppressive heat of summer, do we crave cooler weather and a gully-washing storm to rinse the dust off the world?

Long, sweaty August days, in which air-conditioning provides little relief. Droughts that last for so long you think you might just shrivel up along with the rest of nature. Blessed rain, finally coming, sounding so beautiful and pure that you want to go out and dance in it. At those times, the prospect of a rainy planet seems pretty good.

So even though it is cold and wet right now, and has been for some time, at least I have a roof and heat and food and loved ones and God. It is dreary outside, but it's actually pretty cozy in here, thanks to "the tatting drum, the endless shaking down of clear bead necklaces upon the roof." At least we know that the sun, when it comes, is going to blaze down full force and is going to last long enough to revel in.

As Christian artist Bryan Duncan sang a few years back, "If there's one thing you can count on, if there's one thing you can know for sure, if there's one thing God has promised...things are gonna change."

Before you mildew, hang on. Things are gonna change.

Until next time,

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