There were clouds. And a fresh breeze coming from the north-west. We negotiated the long, steep flight of steps down to the water’s edge, with pram, baby and toddler. Down and down and down, through lush forest, surrounded by birdsong. The final steps were jumped down in victory! We made it!

And the path flattened out, the view opened up, and through the branches we could see the expanse of water that stretched away before us.

The little ones wanted to walk, splashing through the puddles. I was grateful for my jersey even though the fresh breeze bit through its weave.

Birds called around us. We dawdled, trying to find them in the thick foliage on the landward side of the path. There! And there! Iridescent feathers, white flashes, and a white bow tie. A tui bird. Calling, its hollow, piping notes answered by others further along the shoreline.

We climbed a steep bank to sit on the bench and share a small snack – encouragement and provision to continue the journey.

A spot of rain fell on my hand – and within seconds the heavens opened. Large fat drops soaking into clothing, swelling puddles, filling gullies that gushed into the basin through pipes running beneath the path.

Five minutes later and it was over, the squall passing through on the stiff breeze and leaving us behind in a steaming humid moment that fogged up our glasses. This too passed as quickly as the squall.

We continued, dodging puddles, climbing slopes, crossing a busy road to rejoin the path later as part of our route was closed due to reconstruction. We walked onto the boardwalk which stretched the whole length of the basin, watching the ‘big kids’ in their bright canoes or on windsurfers, striving to learn their sport in the gusty, fickle wind.

We climbed the slope and sat on a damp bench, enjoying the rest of our picnic. The light was wonderful, the city across the water floodlit with sunshine, the clouds above bruised and purple and black.

The turquoise water faded, morphing to green.

I took photos. As I looked at one I realised I had photographed rain – falling in torrents beyond the city across the basin. Drawing closer, closer.

We picked up everything and ran. Glancing back for a mere second, I could see the rain gaining on us as it swept across the water.

Two seconds of drops, plot, plop, plop, and it was upon us. As we ran for the car I could feel it hitting my back, and we threw ourselves into the vehicle.

It had been a glorious, happy morning in a beautiful place and I was grateful for the whole experience, but as I thought about it later the idea came to me to see the day in the light of life. Joy and happiness, the beauty of creation, all interspersed with storms.

We had had the signs. The dark clouds, the bruised sky, the wind, the green water. But we had failed to read them.

What signs in our lives are visible today that we are failing to read?

I wonder.

What do you think?

About Mandy Hackland

My love in life is to encourage others to deepen their relationship with God. I write devotional material, stories and small group studies with that in mind. I live in South Africa and also love spending time in the bush, bird watching and walking. I have moved to the coast and am enjoying the green spaces and beautiful vistas that surround me, reminding me of God's grace every day.
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