Four o’clock. A.M. Wide awake. Save for the occasional snuffle and snort, the quiet of the house wrapped around me like a soft and comforting blanket. As I pad downstairs to make myself a cup of tea, I can hear the faint tinkling patter of rain on the skylight.
For many years, I would gripe, grouse, and go on, and on, on rainy days. But in the last several years, I have learned to appreciate quite a few things that I’d either taken for granted, or found otherwise inconvenient. Like rainy days.
Were you like me, grumbling and groaning when you would awaken to a misty day? Were you unlike me, greeting it with fascination, a sense of wonder, and perhaps allowing a smile to creep up on you? Did you choose to find the beauty and joy, or would you ruefully decide to bear it?
I have found there really is such exquisite beauty in a rainy day, if I take the time to appreciate it. I have come to like buffet offered to the senses, the sights and sounds of rain that, in spring and fall herald the anticipation of a new season, and in summer refresh and renew.
In spring, everything seems to come alive in a great festival of enthusiastic vitality. Raindrops kiss the fragrant moist dirt, and then burrow and sink deep within. A rich brew of musky and savory, and the sharp scent of damp cedar chips along with the sweet earth drifts past nostrils. The meandering stone pathway finds itself the center of a harmony of celebration as rain ticks, plops, skips, dances and jumps from its surface. Tufts of bright chartreuse dotted with glistening drops are delightful hints of an awaiting explosion of radiant color that will roll and undulate across the flowerbeds. Brilliant green blades of grass peek through the soft carpet that seems to yawn and lazily rouse from its sleep. The morning’s overcast sky provides a silvery velvet background to the massive maples, their compacted florets perched upon moistened branches, sweeping across the sky in the gentle breeze as if to stretch open the heavens. To the background of the pit-pat on window sills and pavement, and the tinkling sprinkle on the neighbor’s wind chime, the bright red cardinals sing their scales atop their roost. Brown speckled sparrows pip and squeak while they hunch together on the fence, glistening clear droplets struggling to hold on before dribbling down. Cars and bicycles slice pinstripe streaks down the length of the damp street, punctuated by the off-beat cymbal splash through a puddle. Raindrops hang like weights from the wrought-iron table and chairs, anticipating spirited gatherings and quiet times of reflection in the soft air and warm sunshine. Each drop seems to count down toward God’s glory in the infinitely small and magically veiled to soon crescendo in a display of jaw-dropping kaleidoscope in color, texture, tastes, sounds and bustling activity. Activated and animated by aqua.
Water is in just about everything, and is needed just about everywhere, not just my garden. We’ve all heard that just over roughly 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, and that our bodies are made up just about the same percentage of water (about 10% less than what we’re born with). “By the time a person feels thirsty, his or her body has lost over 1 percent of its total water amount. Pure water (solely hydrogen and oxygen atoms) has a neutral pH of 7, which is neither acidic nor basic, and dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Wherever it travels, water carries chemicals, minerals, and nutrients with it.” (allaboutwater.org). Life comes from, flourishes and is cared for through the existence of water!
Water is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible, referring not only to its requirement for meeting many of our physical needs, but also as imagery to quench our spiritual needs, and to embody our enmeshed resemblance with God. It illustrates and gives expression to God’s drenching us in the life-blood of his Word, to describe his lavish and provisional character and nature, and his likeness entwined within us. We are repositories, vessels ready to collect and appropriate his liquid love, the effusion of his life-spring that moves and oozes, swells and ebbs within us. No wonder then my aching thirst to break free of anything that hinders that tide and current, for the refilling and renewal of this intimate connection. No wonder the thirst to wash and refresh myself in the Gardener’s provision and care. The more I am soaked like a drenched sponge, the more easily I drip, dribble and refresh others in need of refreshment. But do I wait too often until I feel thirsty to cry out to the Gardener? Do I consider the rain a trial or an opportunity for thanksgiving?
Oh the power of rain! Thank goodness for the reviving nutrients and nourishing minerals the Gardener showers me with on those cloudy days! Our Gardener dissolves many a malady, cleanses and heals many a wound, quenches and tends to many an ache, all to bless and grace me with his tenderest of care. I long for his drenching with an unrelenting thirst. I need his living water. Perhaps this is why he suggests I regularly hydrate throughout the day, every day, in intimate conversation with him as I would my dearest companion, and before I thirst, before my wanting becomes panting. I can begin with the sights I see, and the sounds I hear. As I enjoy and allow myself to sit deep in the wonder of his creation, lift my face and listen for him in the peace of the patter of the rain, tip my ear to his cheer of the bird’s lilting song, his streams of living water beckon and draw me further in, closer. I am won over, and soon find myself beside he who opens storehouses of abundance. Perhaps then what seems like a relentless deluge is more a lavish blessing that soaks me through to the bone? Perhaps I can even venture welcoming it? Oh, the Gardener does bless, with showers as much as with sunshine – sunshine that so often is much the sweeter after a spell of rain.
Through both rain and sun, the Gardener is orchestrating the great and vigorous animation of what seems to have been mysteriously dormant for a season. He is birthing and rebirthing through cloudburst and floodgate a jubilee of splendid flower and bloom, scent and sound, abundantly flooding his world with his plenty and glory through you, through me. And, as if in an exquisite finale, the sun perforates all veil of pain and sorrow, evaporates deluge of adversity and trial, catching reflection in every last drop of rain and tear, only to have the pearly beads disappear in a joyful burst of gentle and vanishing irridiscent mist.
But those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.
(John 4.14, New Revised Standard Version)
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55: 10-11, New Revised Standard Version)
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:22, New Revised Standard Version)
As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.
(Psalm 42: 1-2, The Living Bible)
Soil and Seed