On a road trip exploring Vancouver Island, my husband John and I decided to stay a few days in Tofino, a town well-known for its beauty and recreation.
Eager for my first day’s adventures, I was dismayed that morning when I read the weather forecast — almost two inches of rainfall. Wow, that’s a lot of rain, especially for a vacationer like me who just wants to go to the beach.
I asked at the hotel reception desk, “What do people do here when it rains?” The answer, so simple, so profound: “They put on a raincoat.”
So that’s what we did, and we had a great time at the beach and other sites of interest. When late afternoon arrived we changed into dry clothes and enjoyed cocoa by the fireplace. It had been a perfect day.
Of course, I recognize that a rainy day at the beach is no huge setback, nowhere near the far greater challenges that life sometimes presents. Nevertheless, as I reflect on that day, I find lessons about coping with harsher, more trying times. Which makes me wonder: How can I live a weatherproof life?
How can I keep the storms of life from penetrating my inner being? How can I bring my own weather, as the saying goes?
First, I can see hardship as a temporary, outward condition. If I persevere, surely things will work out, even if not always in the time or manner I might have predicted. We call this outcome “serendipity,” when unexpected and even better-than-expected results occur.
Second, and much more importantly, through these words from the writings of Baha’u’llah I find the rightness and beauty of all that happens to me: “The source of all good is trust in God, submission unto His command, and contentment with His holy will and pleasure.”
Then third, if I can be content then I can also be grateful when difficulties occur. These additional words from Baha’u’llah remind me to share my good fortune and to recognize troubles as character-building: “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.”
So I ask myself: “Have I ever been thankful in adversity?”
Mattie Stephanek, a boy who died at age 13 leaving behind an astonishing body of work showing wisdom far beyond his years, advised celebrating after getting through life’s storms:
We all have life storms, and when we get the rough times and we recover from them, we should celebrate that we got through it. No matter how bad it may seem, there’s always something beautiful that you can find.
When I am in the middle of a problem, I need to trust that it has a solution and that goodness will flow from the adversity. Much like the tides, life has is an ebb and flow — a rhythm.
Perhaps just as importantly, I can keep a sense of humor, which is another way of saying that I can be detached. If I can accept the inevitable and move beyond my prior expectations, then I will become more flexible and resourceful. This can be an exhilarating experience as I ride the highs and the lows with confidence.
So to bring this back to where I started, whether figuring out what to do with a stormy vacation day or solving a larger and less trivial problem, I have many opportunities to express higher inner qualities. When I find myself going in an unexpected direction, I can be curious about what will happen instead. When I find myself in adverse circumstances, I can thank God for the challenges of life — which ultimately provide us with its bounties.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that faith, contentment, happiness, and humor keep me balanced and enriched. They keep me dry during the rain, bringing me the sunshine that always follows the storm.