As we come out of these wet and cooler months of April, May and June, that are usually our drier sunny months here in Juneau and Southeast Alaska, it might be easy to find ourselves grumbling about the weather and cold. But perhaps we should look on what seems like discouraging times as an opportunity to fine tune our optimism.
This June month seems particularly green to me. As our family hikes the local trails, we notice the birch and willow leaves, mushrooms and dogwood on the ground, salmon berry flowers turning to berries. These items of nature would not be so brilliant green and blossoming if not for the rain we have received. As I anxiously awaited the late arrival of spring, I cheered for every robin and woodpecker I saw. The hummingbirds that finally made an appearance seemed to bring extra joy, because we had waited longer for them to show at our feeder.
One of my favorite hymns has these words: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” (Count Your Many Blessings by Johnson Oatman Jr., 1856–1922).
A favorite children’s song “Smiles,” by Daniel Taylor, has these words: “If you chance to meet a frown, do not let it stay. Quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away. No one likes a frowning face. Change it for a smile. Make the world a better place. By smiling all the while.”
We all have long days and discouraging times, but if we try to lift each other up with a smile, and count the blessings we recognize from God, we can help to make our own world and the wider world around us a better place. The New Testament scripture John 14: 27 reads, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” May you find comfort and optimism in the peace God gives, and the peace and smiles you bless yourself and others with as we go about our days.
• Donna Leigh is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Saturday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.