It was already raining lightly when I left the office late Friday afternoon. By the time I merged onto the interstate, the gentle summer rain had turned into a gushing torrent of water. Somewhere along I-459 south of Birmingham, I could barely seen the tail lights of the car creeping along in front of me.
Traffic was bumper to bumper in all three lanes of each direction. We inched along dangerously. I was afraid of what I might hit as I kept going forward, but I was equally afraid of being hit in the rear if I didn’t move fast enough.
I simply couldn’t see what was going on — and I was afraid that trying to pull off the road was no better since I couldn’t see anything and others couldn’t see me.
So I moved along blindly — barely moving — as buckets of rain continued to fall from the sky.
And then I saw something that seemed like a faint shaft of light in the sky off to my right. The rain still beat down furiously, but where was that light coming from?
Then the light grew brighter. The beating rain suddenly slowed to a more-normal pace. And the patch of light in the sky grew bigger and bigger.
In this one spot, the clouds were parting. The rain became a gentle sprinkle. The sky that had been black and then dark gray faded to light gray and then to patches of something else. Suddenly, I was seeing blue sky and white clouds.
I had suddenly come through the storm to safety and beauty.
I snapped the picture you see above right after I turned onto I-20. There was still a lot of darkness all around me in the distance, but ahead — there were increasingly clear blue skies.
The beauty and safety of what I was seeing were actually a bit jolting. It was hard to imagine that something so mundane could evoke such strong emotions of relief and happiness.
As I watched the patches of blue get bigger and bigger straight ahead, it suddenly occurred to me that what I had just experienced was a perfect metaphor for the storms of life.
There are times when the world around us is dark and black. We don’t quite understand where we are or where we’re going.
We can be afraid to keep going forward but know that we can’t stop or go back to where we’ve been. So we can inch along in life, gripped in terror about what we’re going through — something we don’t always understand.
Worse, when we’re going through such dark times, it’s hard for us to imagine that they can end. We can’t see light or color or beauty or anything else except the weariness and depression which seem like constant companions.
And then something happens.
Clouds part and beautiful blue appears.
Suddenly, our storm is over. We’re safe again. We can be happy again. We can see that the future is worth living.
I’ve faced storms over the last decade. At times, I thought I had seen hints of light ahead and the end of the storms, but those were only brief respites.
The storms have been especially heavy and brutal lately. The only way I can stand them is through constantly reminding myself that the storms will end — that things are slowly getting better.
I keep looking for that break in the clouds. I keep looking for the blue skies. I keep looking for the light.
I haven’t seen them yet, but I have faith that they’re coming soon.
The blue skies in front of me this evening are a reminder and a promise of the hope that lies ahead of me. I have faith that the light will show up just any time now — and then everything will finally make sense.
Note: I can’t help but think this is a perfect time to listen to Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” after this experience.