This afternoon I met with a few darling families out at Cantigny, one of the most beautiful parks in Chicago’s Western Suburbs. Everything was going along quite *perfectly* (if I do say so myself!) when, quite out of nowhere, the sirens began to sound and a very dark sky blew in above us. Needless to say, my last family of the day and I were forced into the air-conditioned visitor’s center, where my lenses immediately fogged up as the rain began to pour.
We were quite a sight, really… a beautifully dressed, sopping wet family of four and a photographer who’d straightened her hair that morning for no good reason, staring out the huge glass windows at our surprisingly ill fate. As the parents and I began looking for a reschedule date, I glanced up to find quite an assortment of fogged-up, professional cameras lining the welcome desk. Scattered throughout the room were a number of other photographers, disappointed families, a bride, and a beautiful fifteen year old celebrating her quincenera. It was obvious that www.weather.com had predicted this afternoon all wrong, and our best laid plans were melted away by a storm that didn’t seem to be letting up in the slightest.
After a bit more waiting, everyone in the room began to silently admit that things were not going to improve, and we all made our way towards the parking lot. It was a mad dash to the cars, through the (still) pouring rain; in the end, every one of the disappointed parties found their way to their vehicles and pulled out, through the puddles, in defeat.
I watched them all go as I sat, like a shivering drowned rat, in my own little car. I should have pulled out, too, and made my way back to the studio to finish up the day’s work; sitting in my car to watch the rain doesn’t land anywhere near the top of my to-do list these days. For whatever reason, though, I felt like sitting, just for a few minutes, to take a deep breath after the day’s three photo sessions and stare at the heavy drops falling from the sky.
As I sat and watched, I pondered the fact storms like this are really quite inevitable… it’s only a matter of time before some sweet family’s session gets spoiled by one. And I thought about how life can be a lot like that… the hardest, most discouraging seasons of life tend to come upon us quite suddenly as well; they often leave us wondering if things will ever feel quite the same again. Jobs are lost, finances get tight, relationships break, we lose those we love… it’s a difficult fact that each life will experience a taste of the despair that so willingly travels alongside hard times.
Imagine my surprise when, just a few minutes after the parking lot had cleared out completely, the rain began to lighten and a fresh beam of sunlight made its way through a split in the dark clouds. Suddenly, just as quickly as it came, the dark storm seemed to pass right over me and my little car as it was chased away by the evening’s brilliant summer sun. It was a stunning sight. So beautiful, in fact, that my good sense was pushed aside as I grabbed my camera and headed back into the park for a little stroll…
First, of course, was a brilliant rainbow. It stretched across the entire park, and took my breath away.
I began to wander down one of my favorite paths.
Though the sun was now shining brightly, the trees were still shedding the storm’s water in thousands of stunning drops of light…
The puddles caught my eye, so I took a few moments to capture them as the rain, still falling from the trees, created gentle circles.
As the drops quieted and the puddles became still, something beautiful began to appear. I smiled as I realized that the bright blue sky and beautiful sunset was perfectly reflected by the very water that spoiled all of our earlier plans…
Now and then, every one of us needs to be reminded that though the storms will surely come,
we can be just as sure that they will not last forever…
Because the sun still shines, even when we cannot see it,
and hope is everywhere.
Even in the raindrops.