Last night I was fortunate enough to see Maya Angelou speak at University of Missouri-St. Louis--thanks for the tickets Ashlee! She was witty, funny, moving and above all inspirational.
She started her lecture with a early 20th century spiritual song which retold the story of the Great Flood in the Judeo-Christian tradition in which rainbows were set in the clouds as a promise that the rains would stop and the sun would shine. She then reflected on people and situations that have been rainbows in the clouds in her life. The rainbows in her clouds.
This concept, this rainbow in the clouds metaphor, struck me as a great way to express gratitude this Thanksgiving. It is a thankfulness not only for the good things in our lives, but the bad things too, and a way at looking at them without regret, fear, pain or sorrow, but instead appreciation that without the rain, there can be no sunshine and more importantly, no rainbows.
Here is a quote from a recent lecture Ms. Angelou gave on the same theme in Louisiana that helps explain this concept further: "God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us-in the dreariest and most dreaded moments-can see a possibility of hope." (Source)
This got me thinking about some of the rainbows in my clouds, things that at the time were difficult and painful, but now I am glad to have experienced them. In the spirit of thanksgiving and being grateful for what we have and what you have experienced, I thought I would share one of them with you here:
When J and I spent the first four weeks of our marriage apart. J had a job this past summer in Omaha and because our home and my job was here, we spent the last four weeks of our engagement and the first four weeks of our marriage in different states. We saw each other on weekends whenever we could, but it was difficult to be separated from each other when our lives together were just starting.
Looking back now, I can honestly say that I learned a lot about myself, about J and about our marriage in those eight weeks in a way that I would not have otherwise. I learned to be patient, to communicate better, and achieved a sense of independence all while still being connected to J. These are experiences I am thankful for, even though it meant being away from the one I love and starting out our marriage in an unconventional way.
The challenge, for me at least, is to keep looking for those rainbows when the rain is pouring down. It's easier to see, once the rain has gone away, where those rainbows have been hiding. Something to remember next time I start to feel the storm clouds rolling in...
What do you think? Do Maya Angelou's words inspire you like they inspired me? What is a rainbow in the clouds in your life?