Dancing in the Rain

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. – Ecclesiastes 11:8 (NIV)

If they’d seen me, my neighbors would have thought I’d lost it.

“Look at that crazy woman dancing in the rain,” the newer neighbors might have said.

“She’s doing what?” the ones who’d known me for 30 years may have questioned.

My husband said both—within hearing.

But the Saturday afternoon sun was sweltering, and sweat oozed from every pore of my body as I transplanted, with the help of my 8-year-old granddaughter, my cascading calibrachoa into a larger flowerpot. I thought the job would be fairly simple—lining the bottom of the new pot with stones, dumping in some potting soil, then lifting the plant from the old pot into the bigger one. But the wider pot left a gap between the lip and the roots.

For a woman who wipes the counter after every little spill and pinches every penny, this was the dirty, time-consuming part of the job—scooping potting soil from the bag and shaking it into the gap, careful not to get any on the stone wall or in the grass. Dirt, as you all know, sticks to sweaty skin. By the time I was done, I felt pretty cruddy. Thank God for garden hoses and outside spigots—and summer rain showers.

Just as we finished rinsing out the old flowerpot and hosing off the stone wall, I glanced down the hollow. A sheet of gray headed our way. Hurrying to retrieve the bedsheets from the clothesline, I motioned to my husband, who was astride the lawn tractor, mowing three weeks’ worth of growth.

As we stood on the back porch, I had the strangest urge to dance in the rain. There was no thunder, no lightning—only a warm, refreshing summer shower. I stepped off the porch. As my husband and granddaughter watched in disbelief, I opened my arms wide and lifted my face to the sky.

I beckoned to my granddaughter. “Come on.”

She raised her eyebrows.

“It’s just water,” I said. “It won’t hurt you.”

As she gingerly stepped off the porch, I handed my eyeglasses to my husband.

“Come on,” I urged him. “Don’t be such an old fuddy-dud. Have some fun.”

He just grinned. Madison joined me in a few barefoot twirls. All too soon the shower ended. I was soaked to the skin—and happier than I’d been in a long time.

I used to be impulsive, frequently succumbing to a restless spirit. But time and life tamed my youthful wildness—and squeezed a certain joy out of my soul, boxing me in with a messy kitchen, piles of laundry, floors that needed swept, and bathrooms that grew mold.

Every now and then you gotta ignore that boring to-do list and do something crazy and spontaneous, even if you’re pushing 60 … maybe because you’re pushing 60.

This is the day that the LORD has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

Dear God, help me to squeeze the joy out of every day—even if it means being a little “crazy.” Amen.

 Read and meditate on Psalm 100.

© 2010 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

When Negative Is Positive

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31 (NLT)

Have you ever heard of negative ions? Until a few years ago, I hadn’t.

I was reading in Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away the Pounds book when I came across the term.

“If you feel down or sluggish despite your new exercise program, the air might be your problem,” she writes. “Positive ions in the air, created by pollution, TV screens and computer monitors, and cars, cause fatigue, headaches, and other problems.”

I remembered how sick I felt when I taught in an old building on the main street of town, in a room with windows that opened up to truck exhaust that left a black sooty film on everything and caused my eyes to water and burn.

I read on: “Negative ions counteract this, improving mood, sleep, and energy.” Yep—just what I needed.

Where can negative ions be found? Waterfalls, pine forests, and the beach—in nature, away from the manmade.

I remembered how I fell in love with the mountains when my family vacationed in Cook Forest when I was nine years old, and then bought a small cabin not far from there. I always felt so much better at the cabin than back home in the steel-mill town where I grew up. That’s why I went to Clarion to college, and accepted my first teaching job in Punxsutawney. And why my husband and I built our home in the country.

According to WebMD, negative ions are “odorless, tasteless, invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments,” where sunlight and moving air and water break apart the air molecules. Negatively charged ions are believed “to help alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost daytime energy” by increasing oxygen flow to the brain, “resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy.”

“The more negatively charged ions there are in the blood, the more efficient the cell’s metabolism,” I read on another site.

All this—without popping a pill? Wow!

I thought of how good I’d been feeling, now that I’m retired. My country home is on top of a mountain, where pine trees surround me. I thought about how much less time I’ve been spending at the computer. I went from eight-plus hours a day to no more than four. Mostly because since my neck surgery in 2011, sitting too long at the computer (or anywhere) in a more-or-less fixed position, causes my neck and shoulder muscles to stiffen up and ache.

Less time at the computer (or in front of a TV) means less time exposed to positive ions that have a negative effect. More time outside, in nature, means more time exposed to negative ions, which have a positive effect.

So, in addition to my in-home walking DVD, I added a 30-minute walk around our property, through the fields along the tree line and along a path through the woods. I felt better than I’d felt in years.

What an awesome discovery! But what is even more awesome is the God who planned and created it all for us—even the negative ions.

I’m reminded, O Lord, of Your love for me each time I step outside, watch the different birds at my birdfeeder, gaze at a breathtaking sunset, marvel at the beauty of a flower. Thank you for creating all this for me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Genesis 1.

© 2012 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of wallpapers13.com.