Her stories now reside in a bin in my closet. My Grandma Hazel, the Mother of my own Mom, used to point me in the direction of those stories whenever I went to visit her. She knew that after I was finished taking a walk around the farm, I would want to come inside and read her memories of what it was like to grow up and then raise a family in the early part of the 1900’s.
I loved to look at the photos of her younger self. This is her wedding picture, in 1921, just a few years before the Country entered into one of its worst economic times ever: The Great Depression.
But instead of coming out of that time with a bitter heart, my Grandma Hazel showed me what it was like to look for beauty in the everyday.
“Let others tell of storms and showers, I’ll only mark your sunny hours.”
I have always loved sundials. Maybe it’s because my Grandma loved that particular sundial quote, and spoke of it in her writings. So I googled “Sun dial mottoes and quotes” and found a list from “Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations”
“True as the needle to the pole, Or as the dial to the sun.”
“Give God thy heart, thy service, and thy gold;
The day wears on, and time is waxing old.”
–Sun Dial in the Cloister-garden of Gloucester Cathedral.
“If o’er the dial glides a shade, redeem
The time for lo! it passes like a dream;
But if ’tis all a blank, then mark the loss
Of hours unblest by shadows from the cross.”
–On a Sun Dial in a churchyard at Shenstone, England.
As a child I was fascinated that time could actually be marked without a clock! Funny how the childlike brain works sometimes . . .
And yet, I am making an effort to keep my mind and heart soft, to be more childlike in sensing the wonder of things all around me, to sense God’s hand at work in places where I might have missed Him if my eyes weren’t kept seeing.
Should we only mark the sunny hours then? What if there is a joy to be found in the shadows as well? What if there is a Blessing to be had when the shadow of the cross marks our days?
I can look back on days when I felt the dark would never end, but it was in the dark-seeing where lessons were learned that sunlight could never have taught me . . . When the curriculum that we had spent so many hours creating didn’t sell, and when the printing business that we had gathered fell apart at the seams, our family was carried by a God who never left us alone. When the relationships were torn asunder, and when the church that we had loved fell apart, our view of God’s love was suddenly stretched beyond the easy phrase memorized and spoken by rote.
Even now, when the fatigue or the pain come ready to swallow my nights and steal my rest, the peace that only Jesus brings teaches me to wait upon Him in a stillness that is new to me.
“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”
So, should we mark only the sunny hours,
or should we mark the shadow as well?
Can we take the risk to embrace them both?
He has a purpose for us in the shade and in the sun.
One of my Grandma’s stories tells about living through The Great Depression, and the hardness that was endured. She ended with this thought:
“The people who lived then have forgotten about the long days of hard work without modern conveniences. Like the sundial, folks only remember the happy, sunny days of long ago. I also remember the kindness of so many people who made 1930 a time to remember.”
Singing in the shadows, or dancing in the sun, it is the kindness of the heart that opens the way to see God’s Beauty in our days.
I would love to pray for you,
as you also seek to see His beauty.
Leave me a comment below
if there are places where your own heart is aching.