Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spiritual Sunday: Rain

We've been having a drought where I live.  Days and days without rain in an area that normally has rain almost every afternoon this time of year.  It makes people grumpy.  While they say that they are enjoying all the time that they have to get out and go play in all the sunshine and that they don't miss the rain, they really aren't having any fun and they are getting grouchier with each passing day or no rain.  Our cars are dusty.  Our yards are dry and brown. We have to water our gardens to get the little produce we can.  The berries aren't as sweet.  The air even feels dry, which is odd for living along the Gulf Coast as we do. 

Then on Wednesday night it started to rain.  We had a really nice storm come through and it rained throughout the night and into Thursday.  It even was raining Thursday night and I didn't have to play my white noise machine (which is programmed to play rain with thunder) to go to sleep.  I had the real thing playing outside my house.  And while the air felt wet and heavy and it became steamy on Friday when the temperatures started rising again, it felt fresh and new outside.  Things seemed cleaner.  Even the houses seemed fresh from the new rain.  It was simply lovely.

It's odd how weather affects our mood.  And it is different for each of us.  I love rain (and snow for that matter, but we don't get snow here in the south often - which is a good thing).  On rainy days I feel fresh and clean.  The rain is soothing and the thunder's rumbling is peaceful.  I've never been afraid of thunder.  My grandmother told me that I was born during an extremely violent thunderstorm and that when I was a baby they could always count on me taking a nap when a storm would roll in.  I like that story.  I don't know if it is true or not, but I like to think it is.  None of my children are afraid of thunder either and rarely will they even wake at night from a storm.  If they do, they simply sigh and snuggle deeper into their blankets and are lulled back to sleep. 

Rain, for me, means a good day or reading.  It is curling up in bed or on the couch with a new book or an old familiar and letting the rain play the soundtrack for the book I'm reading.  Since beginning work at Barnes and Noble (a bookstore for those who don't know) I have found that rain also makes other people become readers.  When it is raining outside people tend to stay longer in the bookstore.  On Thursday I found all the over-stuffed chairs filled, the cafe full and people curled up on the floor throughout the store with books propped, enjoying the forced captivity and the time to enjoy a book. 

Rain has played a role in many different religions.  In the Judeo-Christian story of Noah's Ark, God cleansed the earth with rain.  He washed the impurities away.  The ancient Aztec had a rain god called Tlolak.  He wasn't a very nice god, but he was revered because the sacrifices to him were thought to bring about the rains needed for a plentiful harvest.  Zeus is the god of thunder (and with that comes rain) as are the Roman Jupiter and the Norse Thor.  The Inca has a god of rainstorms called Pariacaca (which when you say it almost sounds like rain pitter-pattering on the window).  The Egyptians had Tefnut who was the goddess of rain.  Many cultures had devotions or rituals they performed to their gods and goddesses to plea for rain (and in some cases to stop the rain).  Rain has even played a role in our religious structures.  Masons knew that water running across mortar would weaken it and cause structural damage, so gargoyles were built to divert the water and thus save their work.  (It should be noted that gargoyles date back to pre-Christian cultures and are found throughout the world including Greece, South America and Japan.)

Rain is important.  We need rain to fill our rivers and reservoirs.  We need it to grow crops, to clean, to cool, and, especially, to quench our thirst.  Rain may inconvenience at times.  Weddings have had to be rescheduled or moved because of rain.  Ball games have been called due to rain.  Rain has caused floods and when paired with the winds of a hurricane has been known to devastate cities.  Rain isn't predictable.  We can't forecast very far into the future when we will have rain or when it might stop.  Our powers of prediction are truly limited to just a few days at best.  Yet as infuriating as it is and as fickle as it seems, we still should be glad when we do see it as living without it would be a terrible world that would be dry and parched. And I don't want to live in that kind of world.

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