What About This Weather?

Hot enough for you? Cold enough for you? Ready for winter yet? What about that snow last night? What about that rain yesterday?

Ah, weather. As a conversation topic, it’s hard to imagine anything more solid and trustworthy. Our family lives are often too personal and involve sharing stories that belong partially to other people. Our religious and political convictions, too divisive. Our hobbies and interests (sports, books, movies, etc.) are not always appreciated by others.

But there’s one thing we all share: the weather.

You might not be able to talk to your next-door neighbor about heaven and hell, but you can certainly share stories of the most recent heatwave.  Your cousin at Thanksgiving dinner might not care about the fascinating book you’ve been reading, but you can definitely trade battle stories about last week’s big snowstorm.

It’s fashionable to scorn weather as a topic for conversation that’s too mundane and banal to truly spark anyone’s interest. And yet weather is one of the few things in life that we all share. The sun shines on everyone; the rain falls on us all, regardless of race, creed, conviction, or interests.

In some ways, you could consider weather the great unifier. It’s the one thing we all have in common.

And here in NH, the weather is so unpredictable that it’s always good fuel for a conversation. This year, we had a weird summer in which it rained almost the entire month of July. We’ve had 90-degree days in April that were followed by a snowstorm one month later. We’ve had days that begin with Arctic frigidity that melts into mellow summer-like warmth within a few hours. If we prepare to go for a hike any time between October and May, we must bring winter gear with us and prepare for the possibility of a raging blizzard above treeline.

While the topic of weather might seem mundane, it is a force that definitely affects our lives. 

For example, I have always found the weather of November and December especially challenging. It’s my least favorite kind of weather. The lack of sunlight makes the days feel shorter and makes me feel like I’m not accomplishing anything. The weather gives my body a subtle hint that the year is dying, and any missed opportunities that the past year might have held are about to die with it. It also warns me that I must prepare for a long period of darkness, cold, and snow before I can enjoy sunshine and warmth again.

Far from being banal and trivial, the weather is a powerful representation of the life of the spirit. It gives a concrete and physical form to the challenges and joys we experience throughout the year and throughout our lives.

Cataclysmic weather events used to be known as “acts of God.” Like God, the weather is a powerful force over which we have no control. Like life itself, the weather brings good and evil experiences which we cannot influence or predict, not even if you’re a Christian and especially not if you’re a weather forecaster. All we can do is prepare. 

And when bad weather comes our way, we have to trust that we have enough resilience within us to get through the storm without losing our joy.

Most of all, we have to keep our faith and hope that the storm will eventually stop and that spring and summer will show up once more, bringing back sunshine and pleasant long days.

The faith and hope that we need to endure bad weather in New Hampshire is the same hope and faith that we need to get through life.

There’s an old saying: If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.

And that’s true about every experience we have. If you’re depressed or grieving, just wait a minute. If you are enjoying a period of happiness, store up every moment in your memory bank because….just wait a minute. No matter what you’re going through, good or bad, whether a snowstorm or a breakup, whether a hot summer day or a dinner with friends, just wait a minute.

And most of all, be prepared. 

Never go into the mountains in the winter without microspikes and warm layers.

And never embark on the treacherous journey of life without a strong faith to warm and strengthen you.

And then you’ll be prepared for anything.

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