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Every morning I check the weather forecast—not only for the current day, but also for future days. Depending on the prediction, I might change my plans, my clothes, or both.
So for me, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just weather I didn’t get ready for. So I’ve learned, regardless of the forecast, to bring my own weather.
I originally adopted that attitude many years ago while living in Oregon. I found that if I waited for the clouds to depart and the sun to shine, then many things simply wouldn’t happen. So I learned to buy coats with hoods and to be flexible in my planning. As a result, I had many experiences that were fun, educational, or entertaining—perhaps especially so because they didn’t turn out as I originally expected.
Weather makes a suitable metaphor for the conditions of our lives. If I adopt “bring my own weather” as my overall approach to life, then things not going the way I might have wished becomes a signal to put aside my disappointment and accept that something better will happen instead—even if I can’t yet see the outcome. The Baha’i teachings ask us all to adopt that kind of contentment:
The source of all good is trust in God, submission unto His command, and contentment with His holy will and pleasure. …
I’m not sure that going to a museum rather than a picnic elevates me to the level of glory, but the point is to learn detachment from my own preconceived notions. By practicing on the little things like weather, then I will be better prepared when bigger things occur.
You can count on it—they will occur. Life always presents us with surprises, difficulties, opportunities to grow, and a chance to reflect on what has happened. Even if sometimes it seems that the storms of life will never pass, they do.
So how can I prepare for storms? In the physical world I can close windows, turn up the heat, put on suitable clothes, buy insurance, repair leaks, keep emergency supplies within easy reach, coordinate mutual assistance with neighbors, and take other such measures.
Within myself I can prepare by having faith in the greater good, meditating and praying, maintaining supportive relationships, and integrating inner strength gained through earlier events. Having gotten through difficulties in the past helps me to get through present ones. Recognizing the extent of my present capabilities gives me confidence to face the future. And having confidence in myself puts me in a better position to help others, just as sometimes I am the one who needs help.
I can also be thankful for the weather, good or bad. For that matter, I can quit using labels like “good” or “bad” and instead consider it “sunny” if I am ready for it. Even if that isn’t literally true, it is another day, another incident in life, and another learning experience.
As the Baha’i teachings so beautifully explain, mature wisdom allows us to have gratitude for every season:
… the requirements of winter are cold, snow, hail and rain—but the birds and animals who live for six months, enjoying a short span of life, not realizing the wisdom of winter, chide and make lament and are discontent, saying, “Why this awful frost? Why this hail and storm? Why not the balmy weather? Why not the eternal springtime? Why this injustice on the part of the creator? Why this suffering? What have we done to be meted out with this catastrophe?”
However, those souls who have lived many years and have acquired much experience and have weathered many severe winters realize that in order to enjoy the coming spring they must pass through the cold of winter. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 116.
Being grateful for every day is a sign of spiritual maturity. Thinking back to my years in Oregon, I had much to be thankful for. The landscape is green most of the year, both the ocean and mountains are nearby, people are friendly, the food is fresh, and the coffee is tasty. Life is good.
Spiritual maturity is shown through how we behave in sunshine as well as in storms. This can happen through such simple and daily acts as being happy and grateful, sharing prosperity, being kind to strangers, greeting everyone with a warm smile, and offering friendly words.
We may not know it at the time, but the stranger who receives our kindness, the person who sees our smile—that may be someone in the midst of their own private storm. Sharing our own sunshine might help them get through their day.