At noon, a couple of weeks ago, I donned a hat and
sunglasses to take Wagsy the Chihuahua for a short walk. We don't go far, only
to the end of our block, yet these excursions are the highlights of his day. No
matter the weather, there are things to smell, birds to chase, and cats at whom
he growls: lest they think themselves entitled to encroach upon his
As I opened the door, we were hit by a wall of heat; it
was 100 degrees. That is not an unusual temperature here in the desert during
Summer, but this was a month early, and it was difficult for me to share his
enthusiasm for our jaunt.
Out to the sidewalk we went. The sun was
bright overhead, but I was more comfortable than the temperature would usually
have led me to expect. The sky was bright blue, with only a couple of small
puffy clouds. The rosemary in my neighbor's garden was blooming with small, blue
flowers. The scent of those blossoms was carried on a constant breeze, not much,
yet enough to change my perspective about midday
"Oh, thank you, G-d." I murmured. "The day is very
beautiful, and I'm so grateful for your blessings."
For about a
minute, I stood there feeling the glow of gratitude. Then, a wave of guilt came
over me, upon realization of what the breeze must mean to others, because this
was a day during the Santa Barbara fires. Only an hour to the North of me,
people were losing their homes, and perhaps lives, in a conflagration carried by
the wind which brought so much pleasure to Wagsy and me.
for the well-being of those folks, then, stood and tried to think through the
confusion. How could I feel such gladness in something which meant pain for
another? Was my happiness and gratitude wrong? No, to everything there is a
season, and few blessings are unalloyed. That was a day the Lord had made, and
there was no sin in my rejoicing.
There are many who seem to
begrudge jubilation in the many wonders of our world. It is rare that there is a
happy gathering without those who loudly opine that joy must be tempered with
the realization of something negative.
I do not agree. Yes, we
should try to be aware of, and attendant to the needs of our neighbors. However,
they will gain nothing from a dampening of our spirits. G-d's blessings are no
less great, because there is suffering in the world.
smiling and laughter can be contagious. It is a grand thing to feel good, and
want to share that with your fellows, be they next door, or halfway 'round the
Earth. We make this planet a better place, not by commiseration, but by glad