And seven more after today. Each day in Lent 2016 I am writing reflections based on photos I’m finding among the film and digital images I’ve taken since childhood. Today, this wooden walkway, wet from a recent rainfall. It’s from a  file labeled “Saint John, New Brunswick.”

April looms, with its requisite showers, the ones that bring May flowers. Yet, the truth is that this whole winter has brought more rain than snow, and storms have produced devastating floods in many areas of the U. S. over the past months. Torrents of rain have brought misery, homelessness, hardship, and loss to thousands. I hesitate to write of rain’s blessings, but after the gray of winter, we do need those flowers. And green grass. And crops. And life.

I once did DSC04548.JPGan hour-long radio program with songs about rain providing the primary content of the show. Without much trouble I’m sure you can come up with ten or twelve song titles that include a rain reference. Often those songs are less than upbeat, centering on the melancholy or outright sadness of rain, using the image as a metaphor for tears. That might have made for a downer of a program called “Celebration Rock,” so, of course, I made sure I dealt with rain’s gifts, its beauty, its baptismal qualities of cleansing and new life.

Rain, I said in that radio script, gets mixed reviews. One person regrets the game or picnic getting nixed by the rain, while another is grateful for wet relief for dry garden rows of thirsty sprouts. An unexpected squall drenches people running from parking spaces to offices, but others huddled together at a sheltered bus stop find community in the space they share against the showers.

Even being caught in a rainstorm on a mountain trail turned out to be a memorably fun experience many years back. I had hiked up Lookout Mountain in Montreat, NC alone, but shared the trail with countless youth who were heading up to the summit or passing me on the way back down. At the summit, several of us shared the glorious view of the surrounding Smokey Mountains and the valleys below, but also noted the dark clouds moving toward us. Really dark clouds.

Not wanting to challenge the oncoming lightning on the mountain peak, we decided to head back down the trail, and quickly. But the rains came, the path grew slippery, and we got drenched. No one complained about the cool raindrops on that hot July day. The rain was refreshing, renewing. Over the sound of the storm, there was laughter as we made our way back to Montreat. One guy we had met up with, a stranger before that soaking storm, invited several of us to his family’s cottage where he provided towels, and where we learned one another’s names and shared stories. Rain had nourished new friendships.

After that tumultuous forty days and nights of rain that rocked Noah’s boat, most of the other Biblical references to rain are far more positive. Rain is seen as God’s gift, life-giving blessing, and nurturer of earth’s bounty. Everybody gets it, for rain falls on the just and the unjust.

Rain is not something we can do much about, other than try to predict it and accept it when it comes. We can’t stop it from raining too much or too long; we can’t make it rain when the earth is parched and drought looms. Sometimes the best we can say about rain is, “At least it isn’t snow.” Other times, listening to the drizzle on a hot summer day or watching with awe lightning strike and counting the seconds until the thunder rolls — rain can be almost entertaining.

From “The Fantastiks” a favorite rain song:

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can see it
Soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell
Soon it’s gonna rain, what are we gonna do?

Whether we merely tolerate it, survive it, or dance in it, it is as necessary to life as love is.

Suddenly I have an urge to listen to the Clapton-Bramlett song that sings, “Let it rain, let it rain, let your love rain down on me…”

 

 

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