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When the storm brings rain

We had a much-needed rain last night. Though the arrogant lightning flashed boldly in my window making it hard to fall asleep, when I heard the droplets pelting against my window pane I knew that thirsty Mother Earth would be glad for a drink. In the morning, the soaking had left a smile on the face of my struggling, newly sodded lawn and renewed my hope that the hydrangea I had transplanted into the front mulch bed — a gift to me from my new next-door neighbor — might still gather the strength to stand up tall. Nice as he is, I felt sure he would be noticing.

As I strode along the drive and then through the neighborhood with my two energetic pups, my shoes became altogether sodden thanks to the puddling on the path which didn’t drink the rain up. Neither did signs and vehicles we passed, nor the metal-covered electrical box, nor the roadway, nor the roofs of nearby homes or their driveways nor the …. But so much did. The browning hillside. The drooping trees and bent shrubs. The colorful annuals planted hopefully along the foundations. These surely did.

Suddenly I felt an odd gratitude for the indiscriminate nature of the rains, falling on all things equally, like the grace of God. Paying no mind to where they land — whether needed or well-received, whether shirked, shed or run off down the hill into the pond — they distributed themselves equally. Yes, the Father sends rain on the just and unjust.

At once I felt a bit of a twinge, recalling times when I had prickled at the apparent unfairness of good things that had come to the poorly mannered, undeserving, entitled or even to the apparently wicked while the same good seemed to be withheld from those who needed or deserved it the most. I needed this simple reminder that the grass, my grass, didn’t receive its rain because it needed it but because of the even-tempered and merciful nature of the One who delivers it.

So that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) 

When we put our hope and trust in humans and human ways, we are sure to be disappointed, but if we trust in God first, perhaps we can trust in what God’s grace can do. Even in them. Even in us. Especially in the storms of life.

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Let it be

The icy rain cameice covered holly

and covered all of creation

with a shimmering sheet.

Heavy under its weight

it bent

and then dripped

and then froze,

God’s great ice-o-metrics.

Fragile. Frozen. Frosted.

The snow cameicy feeder after storm

and blanketed the icy stillness

with layer

upon

layer of beauty.

Limbs bent

lower and lower.

I can ease their suffering and lighten their load with but a brush of my hand.

But then, so exposed, and so fragile, they would shatter.

So, I let them be.

Days of warming

will melt and lift

the bended to stand again.

Tall and strong

in the rays of the sun.

Being still looks easy but I bet it is hard work

On my drive to church I pass a lovely small man-made lake. It offers a focal point for the backyard of just a few homes. There is a dock, perhaps 15 feet long, that juts out from the far shore. I couldn’t quite reach it with a thrown stone, but almost.

Quite early on “spring ahead” morning, several weeks ago, I drove past this lake. The sun was rising in its face; it was stilled in its place as if it dare not move. The reflection of the trees and the dock and the houses was perfection. One almost could wonder which was real and which was the imitation.

Since that morning I have driven past the lake many times hoping for the return of that scene, the stillness a perfect reflector of the wonder before me, the calm X 2, heaven and earth come together in one place. A repeat performance if you will. But to no avail. If there’s a hint of wind or a paddling duck, or if it’s overcast or rainy, or if there’s snow…no stillness. No reflection. No photo op.

Today, I leave for church figuring the view will be perfect. Not a puff of breeze, and the sun is just rising, proclaiming itself through the trees. I even ready the camera on my phone so I can stop and snap to savor the moment. Looking ahead I can tell I am near. I check the oncoming traffic and cars behind so my slowing will not anger fellow drivers. All clear, I maneuver around the pot hole and pull beside the lake to look. There, in greens, browns and grays, the surface is entirely engulfed by waves, almost white caps. Not a meter of it is still.

How telling, really, of the week it has been. The turmoil, the unrest, the hardship, the pain. Why did I ever expect stillness? On this morning even the giant heavenly hand which holds back the wind doesn’t prevent the earth itself from shaking and jostling the waves.

I feel badly for that little lake. How hard must it be for those waves to be still, so perfectly still that they offer an uninterrupted reflection?

Suddenly it strikes me how real, how personal, this feels. Do they, like me, find it difficult to be still? I remember again that “spring ahead” sunrise morning and wonder at it. How hard those waters must have been working to be so still? If they can do it, can I?

They have challenged me. Can I be so perfectly still that I disappear? The only evidence of me, a glassy reflection from earth toward heaven and back again.

What power that would take. What utter control. Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee with but a wave of his hand. Me? I’ve got some work to do. Probably best just to start with one wave. On a very small lake. Perhaps a wave at my dinner table or one in my neighborhood.

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