The cold rain falls from the darkened sky as the big blue truck takes me on my daily trek out of the mountains and into our capital city of Charleston West Virginia. The Carpenters had a valid point. Rainy days and Mondays are less than a joy in modern life. Rainy Mondays can be the worst. The rain collected on the windshield while I was having fuel pumped and there it was. A bright spot on my cold rainy Monday. I watched as the rain tried to wash away my bright spot but it only grew larger. In fact it continued to grow larger and brighter until I had enough to focus on and I captured it. I quickly pulled up the image and quickly edited for composition and brother the color and lighting back to what my eyes saw and held onto my bright spot all day. I made it the wallpaper on my phone and workstation at my day job. I focused on the bright spot all day and by afternoon the rain stopped.
Dark days are going to come. There’s no avoiding it. Rain is necessary to fill the aquifers that we draw from in the heat of the Summer. But I’m betting that if you look closely during the rain you’ll find a bright spot that refuses to be washed away. If you can focus on it then it will carry you through the dark times.
Shout out to Brown’s Service Station of Belva West Virginia for being a genuine full service gas station and coming out to operate the fuel pump no matter what the weather is.
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I’ve said it before about how much I love twisted and crooked, gnarly trees. The curls sweeps of the wood speak of challenges that were overcome to survive. I’m not sure what caused the arabesque in the trunk of this one but the moment I saw the double curve I fell in love with the tree. No doubt that it had to have carried the weight of at least one or maybe two larger trees as it grew. I also have no doubt that it’s unique shape prevented it from being harvested at some point in its history.
Sometimes God allows us to go through struggles that we don’t understand. We might wonder how much longer a situation will last. We might think that the burden we carry will pull us down. But if we just keep going and we don’t give up we can make it. Sure, there’s going to be scars and we may not stand as tall as some of our contemporaries. But, that doesn’t make us any less beautiful. It makes us overcomers and it makes us unique.
As I looked around at the surrounding forest there were hundreds of trees that were straight and tall. Some of trunks were so thick that you and your best friend couldn’t reach all the way around them by joining hands. But they all faded into the background. The only one that stood out and begged to be photographed was the one who was unique. One day this tree will fall just like the rest of them. As a woodworker I can imagine some bent wood furniture being made from crooked trunk. If it ever happens it will be a centerpiece in someone’s home where the others couldn’t compete with the graceful curves produced by overcoming the struggle. Don’t ever give up. Bend and adapt to overcome and you’ll grow into something special.
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Friends gather on the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River at Glen Ferris West Virginia. They’ve come to enjoy the warm sun and the cool waters. Playfully they leap into the air for the occasional game of tag and to float on the warm air as it rises and carries them to the tops of the trees. Their lives are completely devoid of aggression and malcontent. They soar on the slightest breeze because they have no burdens to hold them down.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that good will leads to a happier place in life. It is a promise made to us by God. We all have good days and bad days. There’s days when I can get triggered by the slightest little thing and before I can stop myself I’ve said or done something that I regret for weeks. And, you know what? It takes twice as much expression of good will to free me from that regret. I might feel like I was winning a debate or putting someone else in their place but the truth is that those actions become a burden almost immediately. So, if you want to know the real secret of joy and freedom it’s benevolence.
It’s not easy to step out onto the edge. There’s something about that place if transition from one state of being to the next that really gets our attention. We get butterflies in our stomachs and our knees begin to tremble. We can feel our hearts pounding as adrenaline surges through our veins. That’s the feeling I would have during a repelling exercise or leaping from the tall cliffs into the water. In my young mind I knew that this is what it felt like to fly. Fear, excitement and recklessness all come together to form the experience. When I was a kid I had the opportunity to spend some one on one time with some of the Blue Angels flight team and I like the way one of the pilots described this feeling. He said that “There’s no difference between the thrill of flying and the fear of falling.” His point was that it’s in overcoming your desire to remain comfortable with your circumstances that we become more than we was yesterday.
It doesn’t have to be piloting the latest and hottest high performance jet at beyond the speed of sound. It doesn’t even have to be leaping into water or sliding down a cliff on a rope. (In fact especially not the cliff in the feature image. There’s no water under the rocks here and it’s not a legal place to repell from.) It could be as simple as deciding to strike up a conversation with that person who you’re interested in or starting a blog where you share your deepest thoughts with the world. Whatever it is know that when you overcome that shaky feeling that this is what it’s like to fly.
Patiently she sat in the meadow waiting for her turn. She dreamed of the day that her opportunity would come. She made lists and organized. Everything was ready. She only needed a chance. She wrote herself letters and kept them in a journal. Each on starting with the words “To my future self…” She kept all her plans stacked neatly in a box so that everything would be perfect once her opportunity arrived. She never got stressed out by the wait. She kept faith. Each morning she walked to the little meadow by the road and waited. She was there as sun rose and when the sun set on the opposite horizon. Sometimes the wind would come and she had to hold on so tightly to her little box of plans that her knuckles would turn white but she was fierce and prevailed against the wind. Other days the rain fell so hard that the meadow seemed to become a lake but still she would not be defeated. She held her little box of plans high above her head so they would not be washed away. When the snow and ice came the fire in her heart blazed brightly and once more her little box of plans remained secure. Nothing could rob her of her dreams. She was strong and beautiful and determined. She only lacked one crucial element. The opportunity she waited on never came to this meadow. And she waits there still.
We can have the best laid plans.
We can have the heart of a lion.
We can have all the faith in world.
And, we can have too much patience when waiting for an opportunity instead of traveling beyond our comfort zone and creating the opportunity ourselves.
Living is an action word. It might be difficult to know which action is the right one but inaction is the wrong state of being. Sure, timing is important. But time is also fleeting. Don’t wait too long. Do something every day to achieve at least a little piece of your goal. That’s how progress is made.