Why does everyone always talk about the weather?
It’s a beautiful summer evening, and I was out on the front lawn with a family that was enjoying the perfect night for strolling, playing ball, and goofing off rather than going to bed. The heat has been less the past few days, the humidity is down, and suddenly it’s better to be outside than in. Even the kids were talking about the sunset and how pretty it was.
Then I came in, and found an email from my mom. She had checked the forecast, and noted that my day off was predicted to be beautiful (for a change).
It seems no matter who, when, or where, it is not only possible, but almost predictable, that people will talk about the weather. It’s become a metaphor for a conversation with no real content – as if you talk about the weather rather than anything important, personal, or interesting. But I think that is the opposite of the reality.
First, the weather is something that unites everybody; nobody is exempt from it or immune to it. Secondly, it is something that we cannot affect or change; we must accept it as it is, and respond.
You can’t pay for an upgrade or belong to a club that has better weather. Some people are more or less affected by it, such as those who suffer the heat more, or those who have to work outside. But it is the same weather for everybody, and thus it is something that we all have in common. There are not that many things like that.
So, if the weather is something that everyone has in common, and that everyone must receive as it is dealt, I think that it is something that makes us more ourselves, more human. Weather makes us humble – and that is a good thing. Weather makes us just like everybody else – and that too is a good thing. We share our gratitude or lament, trepidation or anticipation. So talking about the weather is one of the most authentic levels on which we can relate, from a position of powerlessness and communion. Knowing that, we are comfortable there, and we are willing to share it.
But the problem is that the weather is just another big, impersonal reality, so we can impose all sorts of our own interpretations on it – malice, benevolence, or indifference. None of them, however, changes the reality.
So why is it so rare that people talk about God? Is it because He too is a big reality, but who instead is so personal? He, too, unites us in our true human nature – helplessness and humility that we share with everyone else. Sure, all sorts of people have different interpretations of Him – including malice, benevolence, and indifference. None of them, however, changes the reality.
So where there is authentic understanding of the one God, living and true, and people respond with recognition of their dependence upon Him, they worship Him in spirit and in truth. There, all people, of whatever age or experience, are united in humility, sharing a recognition of what they hold in common. We share our gratitude or lament, trepidation or anticipation.
So here, in the Communion that is forged by our common experience of redemption sought and received, we can talk to one another with a level of familiarity and affection that is unavailable to anyone else. We know who we are because we know Him who in whom we have believed (cf 2 Tim 1:12), and sharing that, we can share everything.
It finishes and perfects what we started when we began by talking about the weather.