Do we still call it Sunday if the sun’s not shining?
“Blur” is not only the name for the alternative rock band that featured their song “Sunday, Sunday,” but blur, blurry, and like-focus-fogging, life-doesn’t-make-sense terms will just as surely as the sun rises descend on and describe us someday – whether a Sunday or perhaps a Monday.
We live in Washington where record rainfalls have recently been slogged.
For the last three months.
In a row.
But this is not about that even though as I write this – this Sunday morning – it is raining.
Tears – a different kind of rain – can blur our vision too.
The tiny little placard read “Date of Birth May 24, 2010. Date of Death May 24, 2010.”
Immediate family members huddled together commemorating the same day of life and death beneath the graveside canopy upon which the rain had begun to fall. Hardly is there a greater grief the heart of a young mother-to-be can know than the loss of one that she – and us, the baby’s grandparents and all drawn in from the rain there that day – never had opportunity to but briefly hold.
That it was Monday hardly mattered.
The pitter-patter sound of the rain mixed with our tears shed in silence as family members drew close together in grief.
The pain – and the rain – was gut-wrenchingly real.
In his book “A Grief Observed,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”
Novelist Peter De Vries has called the problem of pain “the question mark turned like a fishhook in the human heart.”
But there’s another side to pain.
It’s the far side.
My father and I once fished our way along the Quinault River from near the mouth to the headwaters in the Olympic National Forest. The trail is totally flat, and except for the wonderful pools below every bend of the rapids where lurked trout – “Surely in this one dad!” – it’s long and uneventful, the forest canopy ever blocking the sun.
Until you come to the far side.
At eleven-miles the forest ends abruptly and you find yourself standing awestruck at the grand entrance to Enchanted Valley, also appropriately named “The Valley of a Thousand Waterfalls.” Cascading down nearly everywhere you look are these showers-of-blessing to the hot and weary hiker. Dad and I climbed up to one and stood in the pool – stark naked and dripping wet – a shower with a view.
Above Enchanted Valley the trail switch-backs laboriously to a place where we pitched our tent and after hot Jell-O (our favorite in the backwoods) I slept most soundly. The next morning I awoke to the sound and smell of frying bacon. Dad was already up, having built a fire and breakfast was near ready. Poking my head out from beneath the tent flap I watched as a creek bubbled nearby. The long-bladed grass bent beneath the weight of the morning dew and the sun peeking from behind the snow-capped peak above made the dew-drops sparkle like diamonds.
A most beautiful spot in all the world was this place my dad and I had discovered. Of course we were not the first adventurers to stake their claim as someone preceding us had placed a sign there along the well-worn path to connote their impression of what they’d felt upon arrival – and how hard it was to leave.
It read, “Home Sweet Home.”
Do you know what you can see from “Home Sweet Home”?
Down, down, down below you is the valley where you’ve come from. Jagged and stark-naked on the far side – at near eye-level – are the peaks of the range like the one on which you stand. And beyond that is the baby-blue haze that hangs over the mighty expanse of the wild and wide Pacific Ocean that stretches away forever.
That’s what you can see from the place called Home – “Home Sweet Home.”
There are times in life, as in “Homeward Bound,” sung by Simon and Garfunkel, that “I wish I was.”
Maybe one of the reasons “Heaven is for Real” is so popular in theaters “grossing more than double its $12 million budget” within its first week is this whole thing about the far side.
Perhaps there is a place on the far side – which then maybe explains the longing in the human heart hardwired for home – where the intermittent dripping refrain of pain no longer plays.
Until then, though there remains for now no change in the weather though they say better days are coming – clouds and thick darkness continue to obscure the sun, and the rain, unlike Johnny Nash, is not gone – even so “I can see clearly now.”
Through the rain.