It's summer here in Saint Pete. I know this not just because of the uptick in Ohio license plates, teenagers wandering around in the middle of the day, or even the heat. I know summer has arrived when it starts raining. If that sounds strange to you, you're probably not from around here. The locals know that summer brings hot days, of course, but also that almost every afternoon we get an amazing thunderstorm that washes everything out and cools us off. It's a great reminder that the universe takes care of its own. When I was a child, our teacher had us watch the television adaption of Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day. The story takes place in a school, on a planet where the Sun only comes out every seven years. Just as one of these sunny moments is about to happen, some children decide to lock one of their classmates in a closet, forcing her to miss the event. Later on, the kids feel Very Bad About What They Have Done. I think that we were supposed to feel bad, too; my guess was that we were made to watch the video as a lesson in tolerance. The irony of being forced to watch the movie was lost on me at the time, but I remember thinking that change and growth don't usually happen from the outside. Any of my peers who might have been inclined to bully each other were emboldened with new ideas, and the rest of them only felt sad. Personally, I just wanted to go splash in the puddles. I still do.
The bumper sticker says "Expect a Miracle." On one level, there aren't many surprises in life. You get what you believe you will get. You get what you are ready for. If you are certain that the world is a cruel place and that people aren't much good, you will find all kinds of proof to support that theory. If you know that there's room for love, that there is beauty in each and every moment, you'll find that, too.
Until there is inner change, in terms of a shift in mindset, expectation, and receptivity, nothing external will change you. Instead, the events, characters, and situations in the unfolding story of your life will only serve to justify what you already believe. You get what you're ready for. It doesn't matter how many workshops you go to, how many self-help books you've read, how many Enya CDs you listen to. Until you have a sense that you are a child of God, and that God is our Father, it's hard to grow. On the other hand, when you know who you are, you'll find lessons, teachers, and opportunities to demonstrate wherever you are.
You get what you're ready for. Are you open to the idea that you are the light of the world?
I'm not suggesting that, as children of God, we are flawless in idea and expression, and that there's no more work ahead of us. Far from it. Of course we all have learning and growing to do. But doing that work begins with knowing who we are. Acknowledging our potential is the only way to start living up to it.
Deciding that you are a miserable sinner, that people are no good, that the world is a cruel place is a great cop-out; it means you get to hold still. Pessimism and fear are lazy. Faith and love take work, because when you can really see the potential beneath the surface, all you want to do is bring it out.
You get what you're ready for. As I write this, it's raining. Some folks will curse the downpour. They'll complain about how their plans were altered by the weather, even though everyone knows it rains in the afternoons around here.
Others will give thanks. Rain is a reminder that everything's okay, that life is going to happen one way or the other. It's God acknowledging us, and when we take conscious part in that process, amazing things happen. You get what you're ready for.
Sometimes it rains. Sometimes our plans don't come to fruition. Sometimes we are reminded that God has a better idea about what we need and who we are. We can curse those times. We can retreat into our familiar houses, our comfortable ruts. Or we can step outside in gratitude. We can let our old ideas be washed away, so that something bigger can grow.
This is religion for grown-ups. No more blame, because it leads to stagnation. No intermediaries, secret techniques, or special equipment. Those only take our power away. It's time to put away childish things and go play in the rain.