Thursday, July 13, 2006

clouds aren't hard

I read an article in The Sun Magazine about a flood in upstate New York. The author wrote, "It's like being the victim of abuse... It's like your father hitting you. But it's not your father, it's a body of water. Or God."

This reminds me of something my father often said, usually before or after he attempted to correct my behavior with physical discipline. He would sit before me with a look of cheerless inexorability, as if forces beyond his control had long since taken over, and say, "I play softball, but God plays hardball." I believe this was meant to comfort me. Or at least encourage me to view this punishment as a cushy ride that I should enjoy while I could.

I expect my father would've included floods in God's game of hardball. Floods, hurricanes, drought, meaningless work, heartbreak, failure, divorce, the slow and lonely hand of time. All were acts of God, all for my good. And, he was right, much harder than a spanking.

Funny thing is I think the spankings might still have been worse.

When I was in New Mexico I took a photo of a cloud peering out over the embankment beside the road. There is a drought in the Southwest, a six-year drought. White clouds float overhead, the kind that rarely darken to droop down heavy with rain. And yet I don't believe these ephemeral clouds are God's game of hardball. And neither are the floods. Or global warming. Or failure.

They are glory.

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