It occurred to me recently, while I was picking up branches and retrieving my garbage bin from the backyard, that summer is a time that often forces us to re-examine our priorities.
During this season, we are presented with numerous examples of how the awesome power of nature can change things the blink of an eye.
Powerful winds, lightning strikes, and torrential rains can alter the landscape in minutes.
Hail is another factor that can cause instant damage to property and crops.
Many people have experienced the inconvenience (and sometimes expense) of being forced to remove damaged trees.
My neighbors went through that after the recent storm.
They lost a beautiful tree that they had planted soon after they purchased their house.
They had tended this tree for years until it reached maturity and provided shade for their backyard, as well as a home for numerous birds.
In the space of a few minutes during one fast-moving storm, the tree was severely damaged and had to be removed.
Many other people across the state have lost trees or branches over the course of the summer.
Some have had homes or garages damaged by severe storms.
Others have had to cope with water damage due to flooding.
The destruction caused by severe weather can be dramatic, and can occur unexpectedly and with frightening speed.
Although these storms can create sadness, I have noticed something else, too.
In the aftermath of tragedy, I have seen the resilience of Minnesotans.
No matter what setbacks they have faced, they seem to find a way to pick up the pieces and go about their business with the attitude that tomorrow will be a new day.
There seems to be a universal recognition that things can be replaced but people can’t.
As a result, even those who have experienced great loss can find things for which to be thankful.
Losing things suddenly and unexpectedly can force us to evaluate what we have, and to assess what is really important.
Through this process, we might realize that things we thought were important are not.
Perhaps we are left with a deeper understanding of what really matters to us.
We may lose material things, but as long as we still have our health, our lives, our family and friends, the material things don’t matter.
Summer storms can bring destruction, but they can also shine a light on the resilience of people.
This can be especially refreshing in the current climate.
It seems we have been inundated lately with examples of people at their worst.
A climate of intolerance, violence, and hate has been swirling around us causing some to lose hope.
Images of people coming together after severe summer storms to help each other and to give thanks for the things they have can help to restore some of that hope.
As is often the case, from adversity comes enlightenment.