It was a perfect spring day. A gentle wind, warm and coaxing, announced the arrival of the season. Everyone around me was in a good mood. But it’s often on days like these, when we least see it coming, that God tends to surprise us with a little learning.

That morning, I received an unexpected letter from a friend. It contained a substantial smudge of bad news—enough to sink my happy boat and pull a few more down with it. I was devastated. Suddenly everyone else’s cheeriness was aggravating. I wished they would all just go away and take the sunshine with them.

All kinds of dark and inconvenient thoughts were wading through my mind when my neighbor called.

“The doctor’s office rescheduled my appointment to earlier this afternoon, but I have a problem. There won’t be anyone home to watch Valerie. Do you think you could hang out with her till I get back?”

My boat let out its last sputter before sinking. Babysit? Me? The last thing I wanted was to pollute a child’s youthful innocence with my wretched mood.

I tried to get out of it but finally accepted. Poor child!

In a bit, I found myself standing in their flat, feeling stressed and grumpy.

Valerie bounded in. “I’ve got new crayons!” she exclaimed.

She was smiling, and I forced myself to do the same. “You mean … coloring?”

She nodded, before disappearing and returning a wink later with a red suitcase bursting with drawing materials.

Honestly, I didn’t much feel like coloring, but I kicked myself and helped Valerie dump everything onto the table. We put on a Tchaikovsky CD and got to work coloring a picture of a wild woman with multicolored flowing hair. Surprisingly enough, time flew by, as I was carried away into a utopia of classical music and art.

Well, I don’t know if you would call that “art,” so let’s settle for “therapy.”

By the time three hours had passed, we’d created more than a few abstract masterpieces, listened to a whole lot of Swan Lake, and I’d found peace. With a clear mind, I realized that even when there are great disappointments or catastrophes in our lives, there is always a solution.

Mine was simple. Unexpected. Refreshing.

And highly recommended.