Every once in awhile a string of serendipitous circumstances finds you all at once and you are left with in awe. This happened to me this past Tuesday.
The day began as most Tuesdays do for me - I slept in, enjoying having no obligations till Concert Choir at noon. I then went to my afternoon Social Work class, spent some time in the library, finished up a few assignments. I ate an early supper in preparation for a soccer game later that evening.
We played a tough nationally ranked team and it was an occasion for our team to rise up and pull together. We played our best match of the season even though we ended up losing 0-1. The team defended fiercely and as a unit for 90 minutes. We proved we can hang with any team. During the last twenty minutes or so of the game lightning flickered in the looming storm clouds to the south.
As I was walking back from the game I ran into a friend. We both commented on the fact that it had been raining, that we loved the rich, loamy smell that rain brings, and that we like walks in such circumstances. Plans were made to go on such a walk. Another friend joined us. The three of us headed for the Sand Creek Trails, the wood chip trails that run through the woods adjacent to Bethel College. Here the lightning illuminated our way through the dark trees.
As we ambled along the trail, deep in quality conversation, sharing the kind of stories that walks and rain and lightning seem to foster. It began to rain quite steadily. Then the rain seemed to get louder, except that now it wasn’t rain, it was hail. Hail the size of large grapes crashing through the trees. Crashing into us. Perhaps walking in a hail storm is foolish, but I found the experience to be quite powerful, a reminder of what it is like to be fully alive. –a wonderful break from the insulating presence of buildings and electronic screens.
As we returned to the dorms, soaked and smiling, we happened to intersect with a group of folks that was just about to head out to Newell’s - the 24 hour truck stop known for its cheese fries and milkshakes. After drying off I enjoyed the pleasures of a late night Newell’s run - greasy cheese fries dipped in ranch dressing, the joking and conversation to be found around the restaurant booth. Lucky man was I that evening.
Many days we must take pleasure in the ordinary wonders of our lives - the basic rhythms of meaningful work, rest, play, worship, study, eating. The ordinary is a good thing to be embraced. But some days the extraordinary seems to open itself up to you. This past Tuesday left me radiant from the extraordinary - my body was tired from a hard-fought and exhilarating soccer game and a nighttime storm walk, my belly full with french-fries and friendship, my mind and heart pondering the power, mystery, and beauty of it all.