Raise your hand if you played in the rain as a kid? We did – all the time. In fact, my parents encouraged it. Can’t say whether it was the allure of not having to bother with bath time at the end of the day or the fact that it was cheaper than a “slip-n-slide” that made kicking us out the door so appealing. Or, maybe, it’s just the way they did things back then.
The last time that I recall voluntarily heading out into the rain was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. It was one of those soft, southern rains that sprout up on summer afternoons. No pomp and circumstance of thunder and lightning. No cold front to steal the warm air. I can’t recall what we talked about, but I can remember strolling around the neighborhood and splashing through puddles with my daddy.
Despite it’s questionable PR campaign, I love the sights, sounds, and smells of summer storms. The flash of lightning against an inky sky. A crack of thunder just a little louder than anticipated. I relish fresh spring showers. So, the other day when a song came on the radio about the rain – my ears perked up. And I know there’ll be days, when this life brings me pain. But if that’s what it takes to praise You. Jesus, bring the rain. Whoa! Did I hear that right? Isn’t life dangerous enough? Even Jesus tells us that we have enough worries for one day. Who needs more?
Having spent a good part of my adult life living on the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Season has been a routine part of my life. June 1st marks the official start of the season and it lasts for a full six months – half the year. And, a good part of the remainder of the year in that area is often marked by scattered showers, thunderstorms, and flash floods.
Real storms are messy, ya’ll. Flood waters move swiftly. More akin to whitewater rapids than a slow-moving stream, flood waters can clear a path. And, then as the waters recede, they leave their mark – mud, muck, and mess. Whether you have six inches or six feet of water in your home, the summer heat sends mold creeping up your walls faster than an F6 tornado tearing through Kansas. While the mold creeps, everything starts to rot. There are no words for the smell.
If “bringing the rain” means the soft showers of youthful summers, dance, dance, dance!!! Let me splash under a slate blue sky.
[Enter Reality, Stage Left]
Life’s figurative storms can be just as turbulent as the real thing! No matter what area of the country we call home, our souls are constantly in the path of the storm. No matter where we turn – a storm is bearing down. Clouds are brewing.
Though I’m still not convinced that a rain dance is in order, maybe there is a message in “bringing the rain.” Maybe “bringing the rain” is more about stocking up before the storm arrives and knowing where to find shelter when it gets here. Maybe it is about riding out the storm with grace.
What’s stuffed into your emergency “tote”? I wish that I could report that my emergency kit was solid. The last thing that you want to happen when a storm hits is to find out that the batteries in your plastic tote have died or that you forgot to tuck your insurance papers inside. Emergency kits – whether literal or figurative – need to be checked from time-to-time.
We interrupt this blog post for an important announcement. Now is the time to take inventory of your literal storm kit. You will be very upset when you find that it is missing something that you are certain was in it. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posting.
What are the rituals that keep your soul charged? Where do you refill your grace? Exercise? Prayer? Sleep? Music? Community? Volunteering? Are you making sure that these things are in your tote?
It was three weeks after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city of New Orleans before I could make the first trip back to our home. As I prepared for that trip, I asked both of my girls (ages six and seven at the time) if there was anything important that they wanted from the house. Though my older daughter had long since outgrown the comfort items of toddlerhood, she wanted her “blankie.” She needed comfort in the storm. She was “taking shelter” the only way a second-grade mind could comprehend.
No matter what our age – we have an eternal desire for comfort. We all take shelter when the storm hits. And, when stress floods the mind, our tendency take shelter in the places that our hearts already know – good or bad. Shelters are built on the dry days so that they will be there in emergencies. Where do you seek shelter? Is it healthy? Is it sturdy? Friends, family, and faith? Or is it destructive? Is it flimsy? Isolation, anger, or abuse? What steps are you taking to shore up your shelter? If your shelter is like mine, it is under constant renovation and in dire need of some upgrades.
Riding a Wave of Grace
What does grace look like in the midst of a stinging rain? Sometimes “grace” is a heroic headline of exhausted first responders after a long day of rescues. For of all of the grace making headlines, there are scores of grace tucked in the columns of the back pages. Grace looks more like Clark Kent than Superman. So ordinary. So mundane. So easy to overlook.
Surveying the mess that once was our New Orleans’ home, strangely, ordinary things popped out against the backdrop of devastation. Amidst the stench and the turmoil, grace emerged. A plant perfectly placed on a kitchen table. A child’s, tiny silver cross balanced on a windowsill. Family photos stained by the events, but salvageable. A child’s blankie.
If you haven’t been through it yet, something will eventually come along that is too much to bear alone. A foreclosure. A bankruptcy. A divorce. Death. If you are in the middle of it now, take a moment to seek out one small sign of grace. If you are “past” it, reflect. There are graceful moments that may have been lost in the initial chaos. It’s never too late to gather them.
Grace wasn’t confined to the moldy walls of our home. Friends, family, and strangers became the outward signs of God’s love and grace after Katrina. Even as I remained in denial (shock) about the severity of the situation, others came to the rescue. Just ordinary people doing ordinary things in extraordinary times. The same is even more so true in these months following Brooke’s accident. Waves of grace continue to wash over us.
Storms are reminders that we can’t make it alone. So, it’s okay to allow the waves of grace to wash over us. Storms are also reminders that we can’t make it alone. We can’t remain forever floating isolated in the surf. At some point, we need to catch the grace wave and ride it to shore. We need to pour out onto others the grace that we received.
How do we catch the wave when we are weak and weary? Start small. Build your grace muscles. Hold a door. Smile. Take your earbuds out. Deliver a hot dish. Say a prayer. Do the ordinary during ordinary times and it will come naturally when times become extraordinary.
Look – here comes the rain again . . .. Are you stocked up? Is your Shelter steady?
Let’s lock arms and ride a wave of grace! Let’s dance!
Bring the Rain lyrics © Carlin America Inc, Mike Curb Music; Artist: Mercy Me; Songwriters: Billy Montana / Helen Darling.