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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hottest Day of the Year

Traditionally, my birthday has always been one of the hottest days of the year. You'd think that June in Minnesota would be at least reasonably temperate, but no, that's not the case. It's right up there with "moving day" to anywhere - hot, humid, uncomfortable.

My Mom still loves to tell the story of my very dramatic sixth (?) birthday (in Illinois, actually) at which the "candles melted off the cake!". And the seafoam frosting melted, and we were all melting in the intense humidity in pre-central-air or AC days. We had no experience with climate control; we dealt with what we were handed, and we had box fans all over the house that just pushed the hot air around and didn't do anything else. Incidentally, they often served as cupholders, so they weren't entirely useless.

On that auspicious day, Mom also loves to relate how the heat and humidity just continued to build, and they finished my party in a hurry and sent everyone home, just in time, for then a storm hit. To hear her tell it, it was the storm of all storms. While Mom sent us to the hallway closet, she saw a tornado descending just across the river from us, touch down...retract as though it "bounced"...and then we later learned it came down on the other side of the hill that backed our neighborhood. I don't remember any devastation, but I do remember the humid darkness of the hallway closet and the scratchy winter coats as my brother and I sweated, and I held the dog who shuddered in my own shuddering arms.

So many years went by...always hot.

A few years ago when I bought my townhome, some friends came over to celebrate my birthday at my house; we were making pasta. We were experiencing a typical June heatwave, the first in my new home, and I had just discovered that my Central Air didn't work. The repairman couldn't get here until...get this...the following THURSDAY!

So we turned on the ceiling fan, which we'd also have to turn off periodicaly, because it dried the pasta out. As we worked in my cramped kitchen and "dining room", we alternately sweated and dried out pasta dough. We couldn't win. The heat from the oven and the stove rose to make the atmosphere even more unbearable, but all we could do was joke about it and try to keep the dough moist.

But we had wine, and we had music, and we had conversation, and we had picnic blankets, so all was well and we consumed the Italian-faire smorgasboard outside, and only 1 glass of red wine was spilled on my blanket from Mexico...and you can't even tell.

Fast-forward to the present day...

The last couple days up here in Minnesota have been nice, a wonderful break after a very hot week as the dew points fell, but today, true to form, the temps shot up and the dew points rose, and of course, severe thunderstorms raged around the Minneapolis-St.Paul area. I was completely unsurprised.

I learned today that on my actual date of birth, there was a solar eclipse. My Manager at work (who was 7 at the time) remembers going outside with a shadowbox in order to view the phenomena. (Not my birth; the eclipse!)

He sent out an e-mail today to the powers that be and anyone who might care about birthdays in his unit, and said something about the fact that in spite of the fact that the sun was covered on the day I was born, I tend to bring sunshine with my presence. (All together now....awww! And in reality, I do love my Manager...hate the job and the industry, but the people around me are great.) The picture he found to send with the email showed some poor guy trying to blow out the candle on the cake, but it blew up in his face. Hate when that happens! Apparently my Manager needs to come to a birthday party at my house...the candles melt before they can be lit.

Seriously...I think this reality about the "sunshine" has been bourne out year after year, because the sun certainly has shined on my birthday, every year of my life...and with it has come the uncomfortable heat and humidity that cause candles to melt off the cake before they can even be lit!

And yet, so many years, with the sunshine and the heat, there have been storms - big ones - and I have to wonder...should I be taking a lesson from this? If the same thing is happening year after year, while it could be explained as a simple June weather pattern, could it not also be seen as a pattern of God's grace?

We see the fact that the sunniest places of the world also experience the heaviest downpours and the greatest storms, so doesn't it stand to reason, if we look into the spiritual realm, that where God's light shines, the darkness works that much harder to conquer?

I cannot deny, no will I, that God has been very good to me. In so many ways He has "favored" me, but never without a price. For all of us, each of God's favors exact some kind of price, that being a form of growth. We cannot grow without adversity. We cannot grow without water. We cannot understand the sunshine without the presence of storms, and sometimes, the storms come hot on the heels of the sun.

We cannot understand who we are and the amazement that is our humanity apart from the sacrifice of the Cross of Christ. We cannot understand how to bring light to the world until we have had to shine in the darkness around us. We cannot learn to shine until something has tried to extinguish the light we were given.

Everything is a gift; we did not create ourselves, we did not create the air we breathe, and we did not create the sun and the moon and the clouds that cover them. We owe this life to God, and we are called to, in turn, offer ourselves as gifts to those around us. We are called to carry the light to the world, and in order to carry out such a task, we can expect to sweat, we can expect to have to take cover to shelter the flame, and we can expect to persevere through darkness and oppression.

I thank God for all I have been given, even for the heat and the humidity and the storms.

And so far, I have not turned on my Air today, but true to tradition, my box fan is in the window, moving the hot air around. Thank God for box fans!

Now please excuse me while I go find a candle to light....

9 comments:

tara said...

God created you for Him--hmmm--God created you as a gift for Himself--hmmmm--HAPPY BIRTHDAY! God's gift to the world!

Richie D said...

Belated Ha-p-p-y Birthday.

Your post reminds me of the Prayer from the Book of Daniel that pops up in the Liturgy of the Hours:

"Sun and moon, Praise the Lord,
Heat and cold, Praise the Lord"
(and much more)

Maureen said...

I think it was God telling you to let a smile be your umbra-ella! :)

Theocoid said...

Happy birthday!

Bill B

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Awwwww-regarding your Manager's comment. At my work, they just say I'm full of hot air.

Seriously, I'm not surprised that there was a major, cosmic, event on the day of your birth. If you tell me 3 wise men followed a Star to your crib, I'd believe you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Now, Cathy, don't get heretical on me!

~ Adoro

Hidden One said...

Happy Belated B-Day Adoro!

Kitchen Madonna said...

Happy Birthday! We share the same birthday and a friend, Sarah R. at just another day of Catholic pondering!

Sarah said...

Better late than never...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

((big hugs))

(catching up on like 13 of your posts tonight...SO sorry I missed saying this on time!!!)

Keep on shinin, girlfriend! Remember, the sun is a star too, and a more powerful one to those of us on earth... :)