A couple weeks back, we were walking to a Chinese New Year feast at the house of some friends, and my wife and I found ourselves skipping from shade patch to shade patch to escape the blazing sun.
It was one of those stifling days where your sweat can have sweat of its own even when you are sitting idly under the shade of a tree. But if you have to emerge into the sun, it has the feeling that you might as well be standing on the surface of the sun.
It was hot. Biting hot.
However, the shade in such an intolerable environment provided a needed and unexpected respite from the offensive rays. The shade cooled with a caring embrace. The speckled dark patches on the road lay as welcome mats of refreshment, and we danced down the road, jumping from patch to patch like a pair of school children might engage in a bizarre game of jagged movements. But we didn’t care how child-like we looked. All we cared about was finding a place of relief.
Life is very much that way, isn’t it? We find ourselves dodging a series of tests and trials where being badly burnt is a definite possibility. We might be burn by circumstances, by accidents, by malicious intent, or by the slowly progressing humanness which we can never escape. We might find ourselves exposed to the elements and ready to melt under the overwhelming heat of our circumstances. Or we might feel stifled by the oppressive nature of the climate around us.
It might be a word of encouragement.
A friend who tells us how much they appreciate us.
A quiet night at home to restore our faith in ourselves and humanity.
It might be a small gift.
It could be a gentle touch on the shoulder.
It might even be a smile of appreciation.
Shade that encourages our soul comes in a variety of means, but it always feels the same – refreshing, life-giving, and encouraging.
All of us have our trials – maybe even on a daily basis – and we all need those who are willing to shelter us with the leaves of shade.
When is the last time you were able to offer shade to someone who is standing uncomfortably, sweating in the blazing sun?
Look for opportunities to regularly offer shade to those around us because, no doubt, we are going to need it ourselves before too long. Shade is needed for all of our journeys, whether a short trek to a Chinese New Year dinner or a slow walk into our future.
Shade. Offer it. Accept it. Live it.