I was feeling a little glumpy. My late husband coined that word, a cross between “grumpy” and “gloomy,” and it captures my mood as I hauled bags of disgusting wet crap out of my recently flooded basement.
I had crawled inside my belly button and, not liking what I found there, crawled back out and started whining to God about the tempests that have periodically swamped my realm. I got a little pissy about it, wondering whether my life would, in fact, unfold in a non-stop parade of literal and figurative shit-storms (which reminds me of “shit magnet,” my brother’s apt coinage.)
SERIOUSLY, GOD!, I howled in silence from the depths of my soggy basement. IS THIS HOW IT’S GONNA BE FOR ME? JUST ONE SQUALL AFTER ANOTHER UNTIL I KEEL OVER MELODRAMATICALLY IN AN EXHAUSTED, PATHETIC, MOLDY, STINKING HEAP, MY DENTURES RATTLING SADLY IN MY HEAD??
As I said. Pissy. And God, as it turned out, had something to say in response.
But I didn’t realize this. Not at first. All I knew was that I needed a walk. Emerging glumpily into the daylight with a final bag o’ crap, I looked at the sky, blinked at the sun and set off for a hoof around my chipper little neighborhood. I’d been walking for 40 minutes or so when I saw a man — a stocky fellow — step to the edge of the sidewalk about half a block ahead.
As I walked up, he regarded me closely. He said something I couldn’t understand, contorting his transparent, gentle face with some obvious effort. He looked worried. He lacked a few teeth. Maybe he had some other deficit, too.
Hello!, I said.
“I wanted to give you enough room,” he explained, taking another step to the side.
Oh, thank you! But that’s not necessary — I don’t need a lot of room.
“But I just wanted to give you more room.”
Well, thank you, sir. You’re very kind. Have a nice day!
“I don’t know if I can. That depends on the weather,” he said, looking worried again.
It’s sunny today. That helps, right?
“But I don’t know what the weather will be. When it’s windy, that makes it colder. It just happens. I can’t do anything about it.”
That’s true. But at least it isn’t windy now. Just a slight breeze.
“But yesterday — yesterday was cold. And it was windy. That made it colder. We just can’t tell what weather will happen. We don’t know if it will be cold. ”
“It’s not up to us. It’s up to Mother Nature. We can’t really know what we’re going to get. Mother Nature does that.”
“We can’t do anything about the weather. It just comes.”
You’re. So. Right. It’s not up to us. It just comes.
I looked at this dear man — this sweet, simple, wise stranger issuing necessary truths — and I recognized God’s rejoinder to my glumpiness. No, I can’t predict or control the storms that come my way. It’s not my business to know when they’re coming. It’s not my business to even ask, and it’s certainly not my business to complain about it.
All I can do is accept what happens. Cope and clean up. Look to the sky and rejoice at the sun, when it comes.
Amen to that, and to strangers.