When we close our hearts and minds because we feel burdened with worry and fear, God — however you define Her or Him — offers an opening.
I set out on a two-week trip for work and family, struggling with a private decision potentially so life-altering that it made my body feel heavy. I was determined not to let it interfere with my plans for a happy trip.
Whenever I’m struggling like this, I pray for strength and guidance, and calm. I usually begin each day with meditation, focusing on gratitude. This way, no matter how dark life seems, I am grounded in thankfulness.
(BTW: I’m awful at meditation. My over-excited brain doesn’t slow easily. Being a worrier most of my life, meditation is, to be charitable, a daily work-in-progress.)
On days when fear and anxiety try to overwhelm my grateful heart, I search for moments to slow, and breathe, and return to gratitude.
(This isn’t easy: I joke with everyone that I’m the only person I know who had to get a Master’s degree to learn to relax. Honestly — to become a rehabilitation counselor, one needs to relearn breathing.)
The start of the trip was joyous, reuniting with a dear friend, and meeting new people full of love and happiness. There’s something about standing next to a snow-slicked mountain (Washington’s Mt. Baker) for an intimate wedding, that makes one’s worries shrink.
Buoyed by my friend’s company — and that of her Tibetan terrier, Bilbo — I was calmer, and began to see my inner conflict in a more hopeful light.
Walking by the oceanfront on our last evening together, we were blessed with a sunset so gorgeous that every other walker we met shared their joy about seeing it. (Bellingham is one of the most friendly, welcoming cites.)
Then we caught sight of a rainbow — then another — then a faint third — that so thrilled us (and, I presume, little Bilbo), we called out to other walkers to share this rare phenomenom.
A rainbow, with all its spiritual meanings of hope in many cultures and religions, is always a personal symbol of optimism. How bad can life be when there’s something that wondrous and so much larger than us overhead?
I left Bellingham feeling lighter. I enjoyed a giggly, stay-up-talking-every-night trip with my Mom, and we explored forests, beaches and small towns together on Vancouver Island.
When a sudden downpour seemed to stall our travel plans, we ducked inside a museum, and learned about the hardscrabble past of the lower island. We had lunch. We talked a lot more.
Leaving Lake Cowichan after noon, the day — and my outlook — changed dramatically.
The rain had stopped, and the earlier gloom had been peeled away to reveal a double rainbow. We drove under one, then seemingly through another, on our way out of town.
If the mother-daughter trip was exciting before, this only made it better.
This was the first time in my life I’ve seen rainbows twice in one week.
In Bellingham, I saw my first triple rainbow. And in Lake Cowichan, seeing a double rainbow so close it seemed we could touch it, Mom and I were so excited we were stunned into silence.
For all this, I am grateful.
All photos by Kathleen Kenna. Free for reposting: please credit or link to site.