Partly-cloudy world

On Monday evening, after my very generous readers offered up thirty-five comments full of good things for Dotty, the evil in the world began making sense to me.

Even Thomas Aquinas admitted that the existence of suffering is the best argument against the existence of God. It’s a huge question mark in the world: why do we suffer? Why don’t only evil people suffer? What is the purpose of pain? Why do we grieve?

I’m not going to get into a theological answer as much as I’m going to tell you what I saw. As I drove Kiddo#2 home from karate, the sun stopped glaring in my eyes as a huge cloud moved in front of it.

When this happened, the very top edge of the cloud lit up. I wish I’d had my camera, but I’ll have to try painting this with words instead. The cloud took up maybe an eighth of the sky, one of the thick, rolling clouds you don’t usually associate with rain. The top edge of the cloud lit up like the tube of a neon sign, as well as around the edges. The middle was variegated light and darkness, and then at the bottom there was a place where the cloud must have been very thin, because light streamed down in columns. Redand orange columns.

I’d never seen anything like this in my life. For about five minutes, this water-vapor castle just hovered there, flaring and multi-colored and absolutely breathtaking.

That’s when I realized: we live in a partly-cloudy world. The sun is bright, strong, and splendid. We have clouds that come through sometimes to block it. But then something like this happens, and in the action of blocking the light into our world, the cloud itself becomes transformed by the thing it’s blocking.

Dotty’s troubles brought many many people here to tell her (and everyone else) about the goodness in the world. The pain she’s enduring evoked goodness because she shared her heart and her vulnerability, and then you all responded by creating a monument to the things in life that make living beautiful. The little moments, the big sacrifices, the pure-heartedness of people interconnected with other people and deeply mining themselves to give unconditionally for the sake of others.

Evil can block the light of God, but the light is going to be transformed. 

And maybe, in our current spiritually-blinded state, we really can’t withstand all light, all the time. 

Last year, I read a quote from Elizabeth Elliot that Satan cannot see God’s hand at work in the world, least of all through himself; that it baffles him. Many times when I’ve witnessed catastrophe, I’ve experienced goodness springing up in its steps afterward, often a goodness no one could have predicted. Even in losing my daughter, I can see a world of good done because of her short life. I’ve seen hearts touched and opinions changed, my parenting transformed, and individuals opening up to others.

It’s a partly-cloudy world, but the greater part is the sun, and the sun illuminates the clouds.


  1. Jenni

    And without storm clouds, there would be no rainbows.