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Saturday, July 10, 2010


There is a gentle rain falling this morning, lowering the scorching high temperatures of the past few days, and bringing welcomed relief from the oppressive heat and humidity.

Thanks be to God.

Except, of course, it's Saturday. Some people are deeply disappointed.

There are those who work hard all week - many behind a desk, in front of a computer, in a small work cubicle - who have been catching glimpses of the sun from their office window.

They have spent most of the week half-grumbling about the oppressive heat and missing the sunshine while the other half of their psyche longs to be at the ocean or by a mountain lake, or just about any place else instead of in central air conditioning in an office in the city.

Never mind that they are in a job where there IS air conditioning. Never mind that this job may well be - or, may have once been - their "dream job" which allows them to have that home and that car and health insurance and pension, with every weekend off and take that fabulous vacation that's coming up in two weeks.

It's raining THIS weekend. Bummer.

You can please some of the people, some of the time . . .

The first time I went to visit my dear friend Rob in Hawai'i, I was thrilled to finally arrive in 'Paradise'.

It was mid-March in Honolulu. I marveled at the lush green hills which seemed to "grow" houses on the side of them. Beautiful flowers seemed to be everywhere and there were bushes - BUSHES! - of poinsettia.

And then, there was the weather. As we drove to his apartment from the airport, I was amazed to travel through several rain showers in the forty-five minute trip.

It would rain - sometimes softly, sometimes in downpours that felt like someone was dumping a bucket of water on our path - and then, a few minutes later, the sun would be out, shining brightly again.

Sometimes, the sun shone even through the soft sprinkle of rain.

As we got out of the car, I turned and looked and ahead of us was Diamond Head - an inactive volcano which was once contained a WWII Army base of operation where my father once worked. It's now a tourist museum.

Arching its way over Diamond Head was a large, beautiful, vibrantly colored rainbow.

I gasped at its beauty. "Oh, look!" I exclaimed. An amazing rainbow!"

Rob poked his head around the corner, considered the site before us, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. You'll get used to that. We get one of those four or five times a day."

You can please some of the people some of the time . . .

I understand.

I think I've probably spent half of my life longing to be someplace - anyplace - else. When I lived in the noisy, gritty City I longed for quiet beauty of the rural area. When I lived in the rural area of Maine, I longed for the activity and excitement of the Urban scene and grumbled about lack of public transportation.

If asked, I could tell you about life in the serious suburbs. Thoreau didn't write about "lives of quiet desperation" for nothing. The silence is sometimes so loud it's deafening.

Indeed, I probably spent the first third of my life wishing to be someone else.

Not Portuguese. Not immigrant working class. Not living in a tattered-and-torn-at- the-edges New England mill/factory town. Not female in a male-dominated culture and society. Not married. Well, not to THIS man. Okay, not to any man. Not queer. Not queer and female with children. Not queer and Christian.

What a complete and total waste of time to wish you weren't something God made you. Somewhere along the line (and, after spending a boatload of money in therapy), I figured it out.

If you are a banana, there is no sense wishing to be an apple.

The only thing to do is to be happy for the apple (and the orange, and the pear) but rejoice that you - YOU - are a banana!

Yes, be part of the 'fruit salad' of life, but be sure to find companionship and community with other bananas.

And, try and be the best damn banana you can possibly be - the best of the bunch, the 'top banana' as it were - so you can help other bananas (and apples, oranges and pears, along with papayas, mangoes and peaches) be all that they can be.

As Oscar Wilde reportedly said, "Be who you are. Everyone else is already taken."

Beyond the particulars of our lives, however, I think there is something in the human psyche which is never satisfied - even with the good things. The truth is that sometimes, the things which we think are burdens are actually the things that make us unique. Make us who we are. Give us the things we need to know and the paths to knowledge which we need to continue our life's journey.

Sometimes, the only time we get to think about these things and consider them carefully is on days when we have to change our plans. Slow down. Reconsider.

Because, well, it's raining.

Meanwhile, the earth and Her plants and animals are getting relief and nourishment. Meanwhile, life is going on all around us.

Meanwhile, the day is calling.

"One day tells its tale to the next," the Psalmist says. "Deep calls upon deep."

"This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

This day, this rainy day, may be the most important day of your life. To do something totally unplanned. Spontaneous. Something you hadn't considered doing when you woke up this morning.

You might find yourself considering taking an action that will change what you need to change - or, at least, make a start at it.

Or, you might choose to finally, at long last, cherish and hold onto what is most dear - because you finally had the chance to consider what's really important.

Or, you simply may choose to lounge around the house in your PJs and grumble about the weather and all your lost plans.

That's alright. You may never know grateful your body is for this time, and how much you need this time to rest.

Everybody needs the luxury of being lazy every once in a while.

Meanwhile, a gentle rain is falling in soft patterns on my window. The earth is thirstily soaking in every drop. Little kids are already outside, squealing delightedly in the warm rain.

Makes no difference to them: beach, pool or front yard in the rain. It's all about water and getting wet and having fun - making fun right where you are.

Every now and again, the sun tries to shine through.

I'm thinking that we just may get to see a rainbow today.

I could get used to that.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Your rainbows are my eagles.

I remember when I visited our mutual connection Robert in Alaska last October. I kept seeing bald eagles everywhere. I probably saw a couple dozen in three days there. It was a little period in my life where I kind of needed to see eagles. Eagles soaring, gliding effortlessly above all the turmoil, enjoying the wind currents, and diving down now and then for a meal. Robert just kinda shrugged and said, "Oh, yeah, there's a lot of 'em here."

As I flew back to Missouri I had thought "Okay, I was supposed to see those eagles right now. I'm in a place where I feel afraid to soar, and I kind of needed that. It's a nice thing to see but I am going home now back to where the messy parts of my life are, and this was just a little break for me to remember there are eagles somewhere else, in abundance."

Then three days later, I made one of my monthly "country hospital" runs to two of the outlying hospital labs I cover--Unionville, MO, and Milan, MO.

On the way to Unionville, I saw a bald eagle sitting quietly, minding his own business, on the Chariton River bridge.

On the way to Milan, from Unionville, I saw ANOTHER eagle--this time standing by the side of the road on Mo. Hwy 5, spreading his wings and saying, "Look how big I am!"

As I passed that second eagle, I realized the time in Alaska was not about "collecting memories of eagles to remember another place." It was for me to see eagles right where I was.

I wish you many rainbows, Elizabeth--right there where you are right now.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Kirke. May some rain fall on your eagles so you can learn to soar even when the sun is not shining.

JimB said...

I love the throbbing beat of the city. I live in Chicago, adore New York and Athens. And yet, sometimes I need silence. Beyond my centering prayer, I need quiet. So I camp, hike and seek the high ridges, the lonely bay in Canada with loons swimming past my kayak.

It is all a delicate balance. We need to be who we are, where we are and yet stay on a path to growth.

I love rain.


Muthah+ said...

It has been raining here in TX too. Sometimes it has been like a warm wet blanket and sometimes it has been vicious gullywashers that soak you to the bone.

Getting back in tune to my childhood climate has reminded me of the joy of the horizon. These flat plains allow one to watch the storm coming with its concommitant lightening show and thunder rolls. When you live in the foothills of the Catskills, you don't get to do that.

Tommorow I will travel 100 miles to celebrate mass for a small community of continuing Episcopalians trying to scratch up memories of what it meant to be Episcopalian before the neo-cons took over this diocese 35 yrs ago. I will be able to watch the storm clouds blow up, rattle their lightening, dump their short rain storms on parched earth and move off again, perhaps with a rainbow or two to lighten their effect. But the land is still there. The grass is turns green almost immediately and goes to seed in a mere week.

The grass isn't any greener here than NJ or NY or CA or MO. It isn't any harder. It just IS. God just whets our appetite to go and love. Whether it's eagles or rainbow or grass, they are all signs of God's love

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Muthah! I'll hold you - and the people you serve - in prayer tomorrow. Jesus has yet a few mighty works to do in His name.