When did I become afraid of a little rain? When did I lose faith in the sunshine?

I was walking Soleille to the dog park, seeking a taste of fresh air, as well as a sense of hope.

It was only after I left the house that I noticed the clouds packing in from the east. A cold breeze slapped my face. I felt some icy drops. Only shorts and a T-shirt covered my skin. My walk had just begun. Surely, I was setting myself up for disaster.

Disaster? Come on.

No, not disaster. Was I really so concerned that something might happen on this 30-minute outing? I needed to get out of the house like I need manna. Was I going to give up because a couple drops fell from the sky?

What about lightning? Watch out for lightning!

I realized I was looking for excuses to avoid the possibility of being mildly uncomfortable. So what if I got caught in the rain? I might go home a little cold and wet. On the other hand, what if I pressed on?

Maybe I should turn around.

My legs kept moving toward the open pasture, up the street and down the hill.

People got in their cars and drove away as Soleille and I arrived. Wind whipped my hair. I felt vulnerable and alone, as though I were wandering in the wrong direction.

What about lightning? My mind pulsed again. Golf courses are open land like this. Golf courses are among the worst places to be if lightning strikes. You remember what happened to Michael's room, just up the hill from here.

Michael was a teacher at the old Ross Montessori school when it got struck by lightning last year. He and his seventh-grade students were reading quietly when a purple bolt lanced up – from floor to ceiling – in the center of the room. No one was hurt, just a bit more illuminated. The WiFi antennae on the roof was fried, and shingles were burned and curled back where the bolt struck. Everyone in Carbondale remembered where they were and what they were doing when they heard the splitting BOOM. I was at work, across town. The store shook and we all shuddered. My wife was working across the hall from Michael's classroom at the time, and she told me what happened.

Michael's classroom used to be just across the street from where I was walking.

Lightning strikes. It can happen. It does happen. So do many other things. Even good things.

The clouds swelled into darker grey and the rain fell harder.

But all my senses agreed, there was nary a threat of an electric bolt zapping me dead on the dog walk. For one thing, the wind needed to be stronger, and much warmer or colder to suggest danger. It was my adult worry teasing me again – the kind of worry that leads me to avoid doing anything with a mild bit of risk, thus staying safely inside my routines and expectations (i.e. my comfort zone, which seems to shrink as I age).

There was another option, however. What if I were to continue on the walk, and the imminent storm turned out to be a passing shower on a peaceful day?

In the end, Soleille and I frolicked in the tall, green grass below a snowy mountain that gleamed in the sun. I found what I sought! My pessimism nearly robbed me of that elusive joy.

The rain and doubt opened my mind to what lay beyond, but I had to go through it to get there.

May you brave the storms in your way when your feet carry you forth!

AuthorDerek Franz