Clouds in the Puddles

Learning to live in the light of the reflections instead of the darkness of the puddles.

I was impatient and quick to anger with my children yesterday. Owen wanted to help decorate the golf cart for the Easter golf cart parade, but I wasn’t ready to do that yet. Every inch of the house was cluttered with dirty dishes, soiled laundry, cast-off sneakers, and school papers. I was overwhelmed and tired. He picked up the giant poster-board bunny ears that we made and the eyes and the nose anyway, knocking a stack of bills and papers off the counter and bending one of the bunny ears in the process. I snapped and yelled at him. His face fell and hardened. I knew I was wrong, but I was so focused on the chaos and the overwhelm that I reacted in anger. It took a while for us both to recover, me from guilt and him from hurt. 

This morning I went for a run to clear my head. I saw a puddle, dark and murky, but reflected on the top of the water was the sunrise, clouds of pink, orange, gold, and white, and bright blue sky. It was beautiful. I hadn’t even been looking at the sky, just plodding along, staring at the ground. I wondered how often the sky and the clouds are reflected on the surface of puddles, and how often I miss it. 

What about the figurative puddles of my life? I wonder how often I look at those messy life circumstances and just see puddles. What if I were to purposely look for what might be reflected in those life-puddles—those difficult situations that tempt the worst in me but also provide a chance for love and light to shine through instead? Am I looking for the meaning above the surface, the beauty in the murkiness, the presence of God in this messy, broken world, instead of just seeing a puddle? When presented with a puddle, can I shift my perspective to see the reflection, to see what else is in that puddle, the beauty it might have to offer? Because I think that every puddle might offer that if I am able to pause and react with openness and love rather than overwhelm and anger. 

Yesterday, when I saw the figurative puddle of my day—a murky puddle filled with two rowdy boys, a messy house, and holiday to-do lists, plus the usual laundry and endless tidying—I wish I had seen the clouds instead. I wish I had looked up from the puddle of Owen’s arms, clutching bent and damaged bunny ears, and seen the clouds in his little six-year-old face, hopeful and eager to help. I’d rather have a bent bunny ear than a boy with a wounded heart.

I know this about myself. When I focus too much on the mess, I mess things up. I miss the things that actually matter, the hearts of the people I love. I want to see the clouds on the puddle—the beauty in the messy. The choice is always there. It is a simple shift in perspective. It’s true for literal puddles, and it is true for the puddles of our lives as well. All it takes to see the reflection on the surface of a puddle is a simple shift in visual perspective. Try it next time you see a puddle. You can look at the puddle and see the puddle, or you can refocus your eyes to see the reflection on the surface. 

The reflection is always there, I just have to shift my focus. The reflection, the opportunity, the invitation to love, to light, to life is always there, I just have to shift my perspective, focus on the things that matter, focus on what is above and not below. 

Lord, help me to know that even on the dark days where I struggle to find the light, that you are still there, that the heavens are still up above the puddles down here, even if I can’t always see them. Help me to know that there is light and beauty and love, even in the murky darkness of the puddles. Help me to remember that every puddle has the potential to reflect a beautiful image on top of the messy. Help me to look for those reflections. Help me to look for opportunities to choose love, kindness, and patience over control, perfection, and productivity. 

One more thing about reflections—they require light. We can only see a reflection in something, a puddle, a mirror, a pond if light is shining on to it. God is the light. God shows us the opportunities in our paths, the invitations to love instead of control, to nurture instead of checking off the list, to accept what the world may call imperfection for a greater joy instead, for a greater calling, a greater purpose. May we all live in the light of the reflections instead of the darkness of the puddles.  

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