all of the selves we Have ever been
The sunlight was so powerful this morning
that the blinds were helpless, and so, they let it in.
Though it was early when I awoke to its brilliance, the intensity of the sun’s light gave me the feeling that the day was already deep in progress.
The DJ in my head began to spin the old 1971 John Denver Poems, Prayers, and Promises LP record. The song, Sunshine on my Shoulders, snuggled in as a happy earworm throughout the morning: Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…
This morning’s sunlight did, indeed, make me happy. With the recent months of dreary weather and not a single weekend of sunshine, the light in the sky today felt like a gift, the sunshine like a magic eraser wiping away the dreary yesterdays.
As I go about the business of the morning, my mind wanders and wonders.
I reflect on the story of creation which begins with God saying, “Let there be light.” Perhaps, the Creator intended for the human story to be a happy one.
I think of a friend whose aging mother absolutely refused to discuss anything that might have a sad or negative component no matter how important or urgent the matter. As my friend’s caregiving responsibilities increased, I would often check in with her, “How’s your mother?” to which my friend predictably replied, “You know, it’s always 76 degrees and sunny.” It was difficult to get to the truth about serious subjects with her mother—sunny became a frustrating forecast for the daughter, but a nice retirement climate for her mother.
I remember summer rains from my youth when the air was heavy and the pavement hot. When it was safe to do so, we were permitted to play outdoors in the rain. It was so much better than running through the sprinkler. During those summer showers, the playground had no boundary lines; we did not have to fight for a turn. The rain was everywhere, there for all of us. We were too young and too happy to have the adult self-consciousness that lays waste to joy by worrying about damaged clothes, frizzy hair, or running mascara. We knew the sun would return, and when it did, we would sit around baking in our bathing suits until we were dry.
My father retired to warm and sunny southern California. He often asked about the weather where I lived in Ohio. Dad loved the climate of his California home, but he missed a good thunderstorm. During the final weeks of his life, I sent him a nature tape of a thunderstorm. I think Dad missed the power, the cleansing, and the promise of freshness when a storm passes. The sound and the promise helped Dad to reach the other side, the one on which God said, “Let there be light.”
So John Denver’s voice plays on in my head. And yes, it is as true for me as for John Denver: sunshine almost always makes me high.