summer day

The 22 Hour Day+The Secret of Discontent

Last night something amazing happened at fish camp  It was 11:30 pm. We were finishing our work, our games, whatever the 9 of us were doing, all in the room together, when someone exclaimed, “Look! The sun!”  We all jumped up and ran to the window. Yes! There it was! At the roof of the warehouse, on the top of the spruce tree! Remember that? In the 3 weeks we’ve been out at fishcamp, we’ve had maybe two days of sun? 

I grabbed my camera and hit the hillside. Yes, open sky to the south and there it was, that glorious ball of gas and fire shot warmth and light and brilliance all around, just before it began to set. Here in the longest light of the year, we see the sun just before we begin the season of losing light, 4 – 5 minutes every day.

Even now, daylight isn’t enough. In this maritime climate, under cover of clouds and rain, the sun visits, yes, occasionally for a week at a time, but it does not live here. We can get depressed, anxious, even in the summer. 

But of course, sunshine is not enough either. When we have more than a week of sun in Kodiak, many of us are ready for the rain and fog again. Tired of frantic celebrations, gathering our rosebuds while we may, we’re relieved when the sun disappears and we can go about our normal lives again. Until a week of rain, and we pine again for sun . …

And here we are in all our little human condition, pinging between sun and gloom, winter and summer, light and dark, solstice to solstice, from ecstasy to depression, blown about by every season and weather.

Why can’t we be content in whatever state we are in?
Who will deliver us from the fickle weather-weak body of this death? 

And I say---no one. No deliverance required.  Do not look to end every winter and season of discontent. Why not long for sun in the long gloom of dark? Why not wish and pray for rain in the drought?  Why not long for what we know we need?

We are afraid to confess our longing, afraid that the heavenly accountants will mark it down in their books as NOT joy—and we will be, gasp, complainers---unspiritual, earthly, one of those.

Listen. It’s allowed. Being human is allowed.

Whatever is going on in your life, there’s no reason to pretend all is jolly and sweet, (and while you’re at it, please give me points for my spirit-filled smile.)

Where would we be without longing? Who would we be without honest hope and need? We misunderstand contentment. Contentment is not a Buddhist-like dispassion and detachment, an uncaring above-it-all removal from life. Our goal is not pretense or protection from feelings. Our goal is full, abundant life in Christ and it is found not in denying our true needs and hopes, but in entering into them fully—and finding Christ there within them.  

Don’t you know? Longing,  need and questions are necessary to the God-ward life! If you walk about denying your own hunger, thirst, mourning, doubt, meekness and persecution and all other kinds of holy longings---you will miss what comes now and what comes later through that longing:

You shall be filled.
You shall see God’s face.
You shall be comforted.
You shall inherit the earth. 
You shall be like your Father in Heaven.

Jen Pollack Michel writes in her brilliant new book, Teach Us to Want,  "The failure to want may not be contentment at all. It may be cowardice. We could be profoundly afraid to place our bets on God." 

Can we rid ourselves of this cowardice? 

I want to join God in all He is doing on this small island where he has placed me, among these people I share my life with--with no escape. With nowhere else to go, and with days of rain ahead. 

I wait with everyone else for deliverance. I wait for the breath-stopping colors of the world to appear again. I wait for the well-being of vitamins and warmth, for the joy of barefeet and the lightness of being to return, at least for a few days. I wait for the storms to end.  

And this is the secret to beautiful discontent: 

The honest waiting and the needy watching 

bring Him near. Now.