Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Little Crosses

In the fall of 1996, I had a revelation.

I was working at a school in Maryland that was planning on hosting its first-ever Fall Festival, and the weather was iffy. All week the forecast for Saturday morning vacillated between pretty good and pouring rain. So, on Friday afternoon, we decided to set it up for the outdoor venue, but I was in charge of getting the weather very early Saturday and making a decision on whether to move everything inside or not..

Of course, Saturday broke wet and cold, with a steady rain and the probability of a break only after our Festival was open. So at O-dark-thirty, I started making calls to get the crew there to move things and headed off to school myself. As it turned out, I was the first person there, and had no keys to unlock the gym, so I just started moving chairs and small tables over by the entrance.

After about 10 minutes of this, and just before anyone else arrived, the revelation hit: I was going to be working outdoors in a downpour for the next hour or two, in less-than-adequate rain gear. I was going to get soaked.

Up until that point, I had been hunching my shoulders against the weather, and muttering to myself about the foolishness of this: would it not have been better to set things up *inside* and move them *outside* if the weather looked good? Was the wishful thinking of my colleagues about the weather really *my* problem?

But with the realization that no amount of complaining or trying to stay dry was in fact going to keep me from getting soaked, I took off my sodden jacket and my foul mood, and decided to enjoy the rain. By the time coffee and donuts had arrived, I was having a ball. In all honesty, that particular October Day may have been the best day of all in that job.

Please don't think me glib. I know that many crosses are very much harder to bear than getting soaked. But sometimes the recognition of inevitability changes the way we perceive what is happening, and makes the bearing less of a burden. Of course, sometimes it doesn't. But so many of the things that hinder our spiritual lives are at the rainy-Saturday-rearranging-furniture end of the spectrum, and just because they aren't the most seriours or the worst things that happen to us, doesn't mean we shouldn't look for ways to deal with them. At that time I did not know that I had adopted an attitude of patience and charity, temperance and fortitude. It just seemed like the thing to do.


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