I had a great plan to celebrate my husband’s fiftieth birthday. He’s an outdoors kind of guy, and I love a metaphor, so the plan came together quickly. Go for a hike symbolic of life-so-far with the family in a nearby park, have friends surprise him on the path at various points, finish the day with pizza and games on the wide lawn of the park. It was perfect. Until the rain started falling.
As the forecast became more foreboding that week, I knew I might need a plan b, but I was hopeful we could make it work. Just enough sun, just enough light on the path, for just long enough to get the heavily symbolic birthday hike in the books. It wasn’t too much to ask for, was it? As we walked and met a few friends on the trail that morning, a sprinkle of rain and disturbing radar on our phones made it clear that a pivot would be necessary, but it was a hard call to make. Ditch the perfect plan and retreat for pizza at home, or stick it out? By now, there were over a dozen fellow walkers plus our dog with us, and several people in cars on the way, and the sprinkling was becoming a deluge. It was time to call it.
And you know, it’s funny, but this change in plans produced one of the nicest afternoons we’ve had in a while. People brought pop-up tents, chips and salsa, locally brewed beer. They stopped for balloons and decorated our front door. The kids set up snacks, cleared clutter, and lit candles at home while we picked up pizza and wine. And everyone was so kind, flexible, and helpful. Our time together felt blessed, squeezed together in our little house, a couple of tents outside, and our cramped front porch. That rainy day produced some of the nicest conversations I’ve had in a long time, and some of the warmest hugs, with some of the very best people I know. Who could ask for more than that?
As we walk the path of life, sometimes things don’t go as we plan. Sometimes the rain falls, and it necessitates a change we didn’t anticipate or want. Those moments can be frustrating and hard to understand, but if we keep walking we just might find an unexpected blessing. Like a kind of sustenance, light, or perspective you didn’t know you needed. Or the kindness and laughter of dear friends under your roof, the knowledge that they’re in your corner, the sweetness of good company sharing shelter from the rain.
As we came through the door with pizza and the first guests started to arrive, it could have felt chaotic or disappointing to try to make a party out of our changed plans, but it didn’t feel that way at all. Something in me knew immediately that I was living out a metaphor that day, and that I should pay attention and enjoy every detail, so I did just that. Rain comes, and we can’t stop it no matter how hard we try, but it’s the people who walk with us who make the difference. It’s the people who make the journey worthwhile, joyful, and memorable. And if everything in life is a metaphor, which is something I firmly believe, then the rainiest seasons are the ones that teach you the most along the way about what’s really important. As my heart connected with the hearts around me that day, I knew it was as true as it is unlikely: rain can be something to celebrate, and the sun always comes out in the end.