The last few days here in Kentucky have been all about the weather.
Friday afternoon, the state was hit by deadly tornadoes and violent hailstorms.
Just two nights later we received five inches of breathtakingly beautiful wet snow in what has been up to this point a nearly snowless winter. Yesterday morning I took some snow pictures around town and thought about other towns not far from here that were nearly destroyed by the tornadic storms while ours remained untouched.
It isn’t fair. There is nothing fair about it, and no explanation for it. You can’t pray a storm away. You can’t make the snow come or leave by wishing.
Then there is the Psalm for this week’s lectionary:
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat. [from Psalm 19]
This paragraph starts with the beauty of creation and ends with its danger, the searing heat of a desert sun. The psalmist says nothing about the emotions humans experience when nature brings what we need or takes what we love. Yet only the most hardened could see the devastation of the past weekend and not feel deep despair. Only the jaded could look at a snow covered landscape against a bright sky yesterday and not be moved to joy.
In some ways, holding these polar emotions together is what makes a life of faith interesting, complicated and rich with promise.
E.B. White, the writer of Charlotte’s Web, said something I love not just because of its truth, but because it makes me laugh: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
We can feel guilty or paralyzed by the conflict between a yearning to help those whose circumstances are currently extremely hard, and a look at our own situation which may seem, by comparison and at a particular moment, relatively trouble-free.
There is really no resolution to this internal conflict. But as we live with our discordant feelings, we continue to grow as people who deeply appreciate joy and beauty, and who also want to alleviate the pain of others.
For the glory of God has many forms.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2012