Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lessons from a Summer Drought

The air was dry and humid, almost too thick to breathe. Reese and I were less than halfway through our morning walk around the lake. As I panted along, I felt as tired as the withered vegetation surrounding me. I am twenty-five weeks pregnant and although we were armed with ice cold water and sunscreen, my better judgments warned me to turn back. The lush green grass of early spring looked more like desert sand. A steady stream of crisp brown leaves trickled down from the trees above as they began to prepare for an early death. The plants drooped in despair, giving up hope for the much-needed moisture that still hasn’t come. Sweat rolled down my back - another warning sign. Go home. Reluctantly, I headed for the shortcut that leads to our backyard.

As I trudged back, my feet crunched through dead leaves and grass and I started to think about the many times I cursed the rain – when outdoor events were marred by its presence; when family outings had to be rescheduled; when simple trips to the grocery store became a major inconvenience. Even on days when I didn’t curse it, I certainly didn’t welcome it. Sunny days induce happiness. The gray skies of an impending storm have the opposite effect. Rain is sad, depressing, negative. “Rain, rain, go away…”

And “go away” it did. Only recently have I begun to check each week’s forecast eagerly hoping for a wet, muddy day. A thunder roll in the distance now produces excitement rather than dread as I think of the many life forms that would benefit from a good hard rain. In the midst of a sudden downpour, I would gladly stand with outstretched arms and embrace its life-giving power rather than cover my head and run toward the nearest shelter. Until the rain stopped and the world around me began to wither and die, I had never thought beyond the inconvenience of a wet shopping cart or the disappointment of a cancelled picnic. Now, as I walk through the dying landscape, I absorb a new appreciation for the rain and the lessons I’ve learned in its absence… 

1. Look beyond yourself. I am often guilty of living in my own little world. How will this event affect my day, my space, my life? On a rainy Sunday morning, I don’t stop to thank God for the life-saving water that nourishes our crops and restores our trees because I’m focused on the inconvenience of hauling a wet umbrella into church. When I widen my focus to the bigger picture, I see the true insignificance of my little complaints. Sometimes life seems to rain on my parade, but maybe that rain has a much higher purpose.

2. It's easier to see the good in something once it's taken away. I overhear people everywhere saying, “maybe it will rain today,” with an oddly upbeat, excited tone. These are probably the same people who, like me, have cursed rainy days in the past. I suppose it’s true that we don’t know what we have until it is lost. When I think about how I miss the rain, I am reminded of so many other events in my life that I didn’t cherish until it was too late. I remained focused on the negative, never thinking that I would someday wish for another day in those circumstances just so I could fully appreciate the positives to which I had somehow been oblivious before.

3. Sometimes positive events wear a negative disguise. When I look out at the rain, I tend to focus on the depressing gray clouds looming overhead, murky mud puddles pooling in the driveway, water droplets falling like tears. I forget that under the earth, the roots of our plants dance with glee as they absorb the moisture and that all around me a happier, greener world will ultimately result from this seemingly “depressing” day. How often do people emerge from a rainy season of life only to discover a rainbow that wouldn’t otherwise exist? Dark days often seem to have no purpose, but when rain falls on the branches of our hearts, courage grows in the roots of our souls.

Someday the rain will return, the drought will clear, and the many facebook statuses that begged for rain last week will no doubt complain about it next week. I hope I always remember this dry season when I inevitably begin to curse the rain again. I hope that as the thunder rolls in and the first drops begin to fall, I will look out the window and smile because the rain brings so much of the world to life and so many reasons to be thankful.

1 comment:

  1. Such truth! I'm always amazed at my fickle tendencies when they're revealed in times like these. Floods, blizzards, wind -- even the monotony of sunny, blue skies for days on end. I can find a reason to grumble about it all.

    I love your perspectives, though!

    And I DEARLY hope we all get some rain soon! I'm in SW Missouri and the ground is positively *aching* for moisture. A grass fire ate up a hundred acres and some buildings nearby. No bueno.

    Here's to RAIN, and LOTS of it!