Rain as grace

I’ve come to appreciate the rain so much more these last few months. Aside from the practical aspects (making plants grow, filling up the oceans and rivers and lakes, bringing us the stuff we drink, and providing power – hydroelectricity, baby) there are a few extra benefits to the rain in the favelas. For instance, we have the cooling effect – I’m sitting on the doorstep of our porch, and when I stick both of my arms out as far as they will go, there is probably a 15 degree temperature difference between the inside and outside. The rain brings down the dust from the dirt paths and dust that can clog the air on dry, windy days.

Another pronounced benefit is the calming effect – both last night and tonight were marked by fairly brief yet spectacular episodes of gunfire and pyrotechnics. Probably for about half an hour last night there were running gun-battles (off and on) around the favela as the police tried to come in for some reason or another (making an arrest, reminding the traffickers to pay their “protection”, simple harassment, or even boredom).

The same thing happened tonight – much shorter, probably ten minutes or so of pops and booms going off… yet for some reason, once the rain starts, the police go away, the shooting stops. Calm returns. Apparently, no one likes to fight in the rain. Or a few people (even the men with guns) remember their grandmothers telling them they need to come in out of the rain or they’ll catch cold, so they do…

So I’m grateful for the rain – as a symbol of God’s grace, and a reminder that all life is a gift.

A couple of months ago I came across a quote in Don Poestma’s book “Space for God” that charmed me and reminded me of the delight of the water, and the grace it represents.

“Water is always an invitation to immersion, an immersion with a quality of totality, since it would accept all of me, as I am… The child’s delight in a puddle is my adult’s in the sea…
No rain falls that I do not at once hear in the sound of the falling water to come to the wedding. It is rare that I do not answer. A walk in an evening rain in any setting is to walk in the midst of God’s loving attention to his earth, and like a baptism, is no simple washing, but a communication of life. When you hurry in out of the rain, I hurry out into it, for it is a sign that all is well, that God loves, that good is to follow. If suffering a doubt, I find myself looking to rain as a good omen. And in rain, I always hear singing, wordless chant rising and falling.
When rain turns to ice and snow I declare a holiday. I could as easily resist as stay at a desk with a parade going by in the street below. I cannot hide the delight that then possesses my heart. Only God could have surprised rain with such a change of dress as ice and snow…
Most people love rain, water. Snow charms all young hearts. Only when you get older and bones begin to feel dampness, when snow becomes a traffic problem and a burden in the driveway, when wet means dirt – then the poetry takes flight and God’s love play is not noted.
But I am still a child and have no desire to take on the ways of death. I shall continue to heed water’s invitation, the call of the rain. We are in love, and lovers are a little mad.”

~ Matthew Kelty ~ Flute Solo, Reflections of a Trappist Hermit

May you hear the music of the rain, see the poetry of the ice and snow that falls, and heed the invitation to come to the wedding. And may we all learn to be a little mad…


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