My senses awake one at a time, first to the sound of birds chirping. The breeze blew into the window; the air smells fresh and dry. Finally, my eyes cracked opened to reveal the answer to the promise made yesterday. It was indeed a perfect day; blue sky and sunshine. I promise myself to make every minute of this summer perfection count; my number one priority being the beach.
Of course, the family had other plans. I had forgotten a birthday party that Cadence had scheduled and Brad had to get the grass replanted over the septic tank. Reluctantly, I pry open the lid to the paint can and busy myself while waiting. It is, after all, a great day for painting.
By 2:00, the moment of triumph is upon us as we pulled into the parking lot at the beach. “Wow, it’s really hot.” Brad remarks as the wind has stilled and the sun is blazing. He spreads our blanket and I sit myself quickly, forgoing the book and enjoying the rays. “There’s no breeze at all.” He remarks.
We lay for about ten minutes when Brad pushes up to his elbows. “Whew, it’s hot.” He says again. “Not for long,” I tell him, gazing to the northwest. My cloud is moving closer. This time, I am more amused than bothered. It is smaller today; less angry. Slowly, a second black cloud pushes in from the southeast over the water. The two move closer and I giggle to myself. His and hers clouds; perfect.
I lie back down and watch them feeling very silly, like a five-year-old with magical powers. I am satisfied, as I watch them begin to touch, that I could bring such needed relief to the sun baked beachgoers; a comfortable cool settling in.
I think back a couple of weeks to the carpentry my husband toiled over, finishing the trim from the addition put on several years ago. I have hated the unfinished-ness of our house; raw plaster and sheet rock, two by fours for doorways. As fast as he trimmed each section, I scrambled behind him with a paint brush, blended everything together as is should be.
One evening, I came upon him staring at his completed project looking perplexed. “I worked so hard at this all week and it doesn’t look like I did anything. It looks like it was here all along.” He said, somewhat disappointed. I had thought the very same thing. It occurred to me then that I did not see the finished work, as my eyes fixated on what remained undone. It was as if we could only see what was missing, not what was there, forgetting to appreciate what we did have.
I smile up at my black cloud and I understand now; my great teacher from above. It came to teach me about gratitude. It is not wrong to look for sunshine, but it is wrong to chase perfection; seeing only what is lacking and missing everything beautiful along the way. I had been running from my cloud, instead of looking for its silver lining.
It was there all along.
It always is.