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Rainin’ a flood

Gabe Griggs | Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It is a tired topic of conversation, but one we continually bemoan despite our inability to change it. This topic is, of course, the weather. Just yesterday, I asked a fellow senior how things were going and her response was: “Not ready for winter.” Leaving for class this morning, I thought to myself, “This rain is terrible, wet and cold.”  

The funny thing about weather, though, is that because we cannot do anything about it, it exemplifies our ability to press on when given no other choice. Despite how much we “hate” the snow and the rain and the cold, we continue to “survive” the winter, year after year. We are capable of a lot more than we think, but it often takes extraordinary circumstances to bring out our best. The problem, however, is that we often misunderstand how extraordinary the ordinary actually is.

I was recently reminded of how extraordinary the world around us is when I found a pair of contacts that finally fit well with my eyes. For the past three years, I had given up on contacts completely because of how they irritated my nearsighted eyes. The constant shuffle of college life and a full-time job over the summer have not allowed time to visit the ophthalmologist to get a pair that worked. Compound this with the fact that I do not like to wear my glasses, and it is clear why I often did not recognize friends at a distance.  

But more to the point, when I put properly-fitting contacts in the for the first time in years and stopped to appreciate that I could actually see clearly, I was struck by the beauty and the intricate detail of everything in sight.

Nature is one of the most wonderful expressions of beauty and God’s creative love. Even in the “worst” parts of nature – natural disasters, diseases and defects – we are able to see beauty.

These “worst parts” of nature also highlight another aspect of creation: It can be a terrible and frightening thing. I am reminded of God’s conversations with Job: “Can you tame the Leviathan?” I’m reminded of the psalms: “I praise you Lord because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And I am reminded, too, of Hebrews 10:31 – “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

And though we live in a seemingly paradoxical world of great, ordered beauty and terrible, awe-inspiring forces of nature, we cannot avoid this simple fact: We are alive. We are alive and we have an innate desire to live and partake in the created world. Thus, we return to the unchangeable like weather and realize we must continue to push on, both because of and despite this great (and even irrational) desire to live.

And as we continue to press on, we might observe a funny thing: It is often precisely in the moments of great pain and fear when our best response is joy – to smile and laugh – because sometimes that is the only thing we can do.
Often after great tragedies and painful experiences, such as the loss of a loved one, it is common to hear the question: “How did you deal with that?” The reality is that there are only two ways that we can deal with it: We can either accept it as it is, continue to live and continue to find joy in this wondrous world, or we can fight it forever and let it eat away at us until there is nothing left but anger, bitterness and emptiness.

The choice is ours to make. In the end, though, given these two options, there really is no choice to make.

Gabe Griggs is a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies. He can be reached at ggriggs@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.