Month: September 2009

Where There Is Hope

Part of my daily web-surfing routine involves browsing a site called Neatorama (  It has all kinds of “neat” things from the internet.  This week the headline Normandy Photos:  World War II and Today got my attention.  I’m a photography enthusiast but it was the contrasting photos they chose that pulled me in.  On the left is a 1944 photo depicting a scene of horrific and traumatic war-time destruction.  On the right is a modern-day shot of the same location:  rebuilt, clean, enticing.

I followed the link and took my time examining the 100+ photos that contrast the aftermath of war with scenes of today.  It was humbling and sad and encouraging.

Picture after picture I was more and more impressed that it had been rebuilt.  The buildings and the lives.  Out of that hopelessness and despair and devastation, it was rebuilt.   It made me think that as long as we, as a people, have hope, what can we not do?

I have to think that many of the people living in the rubble did not have hope.  Or they only scraped together the fragments and dust of hope.  But it was enough to drive them forward.

Tom Brokaw wrote an amazing book entitled No Greater Generation, which I strongly recommend.  He makes the case that the generation of World War II is the greatest generation not only because of what they accomplished, but what they survived.  And what they built after the war was over.  I grew up surrounded by people of that generation and there certainly was something different about them that I understood without reading a book.  It was their strength.  And I think before the strength, came the hope…the belief that no matter what today is…tomorrow will be different.  Better?  Who knows?  But we won’t know unless we press forward into tomorrow to find out.  And it certainly doesn’t stand a chance of being better if we don’t work at making it so.

I have never been through a war nor anything comparable to what those folks went through when their homes, towns, regions, nations and lives were destroyed.  The closest was when Kalamazoo, Michigan was devastated by one of the worst tornados on record (  I remember thinking, after the tornado, that “life was over”.  I could not see the way back to “normal”.  Being a worrier by nature, the tornado had a huge and lasting impact on me.

Kalamazoo was rebuilt.  Just six years after the tornado I started a 13-year stint working in the downtown that had been wiped out by the storm.

Our ability to use hope as a fuel to move on, survive and rebuild amazes me.  Of course while the storm is beating against the walls, hope and strength are difficult to muster.  But history can teach us that life “after” is possible.  Better.  Worse.  Different.  Life.

Rainy Days


While I write this, it is raining.

Not a hard rain.

Not a stormy rain.

Just water dripping, dropping, splatting from the sky.

I like a good rain.

I like storms, too.  A good rainstorm, thunderstorm or snowstorm makes me feel good.  Judging by the fact that most people I know do NOT share this feeling, I am left to assume that my internal barometer was installed upside down and backwards.  But whatever the reason, a rainy day puts me in an “up” kind of mood.

Right now for example I have the patio door open and I can hear the water hitting objects.  There’s almost no traffic.  The temperature is just right.  And there’s a slight movement of air through the door.

Rainy days put me in a creative mood.  Today I could write a bestseller, build an awe-inspiring bookcase or throw a most incredible pot.  Rain raises my spirit.  I think it’s a reminder that God and nature are in control.  It is nature replenishing the earth and cleaning off of the dust of everyday life.

Snowfall has a similar effect on me.  Everything gets a fresh, white covering.  Made clean and brand-new.

It doesn’t matter if you are man or beast, tree or brick, you get the same treatment.  Equality like none other.

I also like the fragrance that rain puts into the air.  No matter where in the world I’ve been, rain tickles the same buttons in my nose.  And they are good buttons indeed.

During a rain like this my day-to-day concerns and preoccupations seem lessened in their importance.  They’re still there, but the rain is a good drug that moves them to the side and helps me to see around them and ponder the goodness in life.  And there’s plenty of it.  There is plenty of badness, I’m not arguing against that, but there is goodness, too.

The non-human creatures out there seem to approve as well.  The birds are singing and a few stop by the shrubs near my window to give me a song and to bathe in the cascade.

I like a good rain.