My husband and i were visiting Phoenix for the first time. It was exactly 5 years ago this month, and i came to town to interview with the Foothills search committee. They flew him out too, which told me a couple of things about this church, where i am still blessed to serve. 1–they were pretty interested in calling me as their pastor, based on the phone interview. 2–they were ready to start making some concrete decisions and get moving toward their future. 3–they understood that my spouse played an important role in my sense of calling. and 4–they were unfailingly generous. Five years later, i’m happy to report that all these things proved, and remain to be, true of Foothills Christian Church.
But back to that first morning. Because of the time change, and the crazy-early summer sunrise in the desert, we were awake at about 5:30. I walked over to the window to assess the day. Our luggage, sadly, had not arrived with us the night before (in case you are wondering..Delta. Bluegrass Airport. Lexington, KY) but i was hopeful that it was waiting for us at the front desk. I peeled back a little of the curtain to see what sort of day i’d be dressing for, provided i had some wardrobe choices again. Jeremy glanced up from the bed and saw only the gauzy sheer curtain that all hotels use to filter the light–if you don’t want to entirely do the blackout curtain thing.
“Is it cloudy out?” he muttered, still half asleep. Meanwhile, i was squinting in pain. Blazing rays greeted me, just beyond that gauzy filter, and I was essentially blinded as i turned back into the dim room. “It’s pretty *^%$&*#@ not cloudy!” I replied.
To this day–5 years later–that is still the weather report that we share on any given morning. Of course, Arizona has the occasional rainy, smoggy, or smoke-filled day. But unless you hear otherwise, you can be sure in most any time of year that the weather channel will promise you “An abundance of sunshine…” and deliver. Or, as we translate it in our house–pretty *^%$&*#@ not cloudy!”
To me, “abundance” means more than you could ever use or want. And in July and August, it sure feels that way. But abundance also means enough. Enough to enjoy without anxiety that it may soon be gone. Enough to be content with the moment, rather than trying to cling to it, own it, bottle it up and save for some later purpose.
Now, if you are like me, when you think about “sharing sunshine,” you think of people who make you want to throw up a little bit. Hallmark cards with rainbows and kittens. Morning fluff-show hosts. (otherwise known as “news” anchors, but you know…) Living in the desert though, I’ve come to appreciate sunshine for the life-giving natural resource that it is. Though uncomfortable and even dangerous in the dead summer, it nurtures all that will break forth in autumn, spring, and even winter. And, well.. it just makes you HAPPY! This is the land of perpetual vacation. Hard to get work done? Sometimes. But it is also hard to get discouraged about little things, and that is good news. With such an abundance of light and life in your surroundings, work does not feel like work, and a bad day is at least a bad day spent in warmth and beauty.
I come to take it for granted, this daily greeting card from God that fills every dark corner with a promise of good things to come. When i visit a cold or gray place, it is blessed relief at first… but then i crave the light and warmth in the very depths of my soul. And i promise myself i will never take it for granted again. Or rather, I remind myself that the sun is only the reminder of the light i hold within.
This is the part, as people of faith, that we’ve got to learn to share. We can’t bottle and deliver actual sunshine to people living through a miserable winter, and we don’t want to show up all perky and annoying when someone is living through a darkness of the soul. But what our faith offers us is an abundance of light. A wealth of warmth. The promise of life working beneath the surface, even if it is too gray or cold to discern in the moment. The promise of life with more than enough to share.
I’ve learned to preach the gospel of the desert these past 5 years. The depth and wisdom of wilderness, the mystery of green growing things where none should be, the cooling relief of higher ground/mountaintop places… but as we barrel into another hot summer, i’m reminded of the first glimpse i received of that sweltering sun. I didn’t know what abundance lay in store for my life here, for my family, for the church i was just getting to know. But in retrospect, there was promise in that first blazing sunrise. There is promise in every new morning, for those who seek light upon rising.
Whatever your day, or your summer brings, here’s wishing you plenty of mornings full of abundant, life-giving light. Just beyond the painful or the unknown, just past the guazy filter, there’s a new day. And it is pretty *^%$&*#@ not cloudy!
God is good. Every day.