Tuesday, August 14, 2012


O God, in whom we live and move and have our being, grant us sufficient rain, so that, being supplied with what sustains us in this present life, we may seek more confidently what sustains us for eternity (Collect, Votive Mass for Rain).

As the U.S. endures its hottest summer since the 1930s, that other sobering specter from the Dust Bowl decade - drought - is doing its damage to much of the western half of the country. Not here, however! Heat, yes, although thankfully we are getting a modest respite this week, but not drought! (Who would have thought that tempreatures in the 80s would be considered a respite from heat? I guess that's what Global Warming has done to our expectations!)

While so much of the country suffers a serious and really very destructive drought, here we keep receiving a regular supply of rain. Rain is good. Without rain, we would die. Both where I came from and where I live now, rain is normal - a perfectly predictable part of the regular fabric of life, and not (as in some climate zones) confined to winter or some other specific season.

Unfortunately, summer rains here have a tendency to come in the form of thunderstorms. Rain is necessary and good, but lightening is less so. That's especially so where it frequently leads to downed power lines and hours - or even days - without electricity. (Oh, the wisdom of urban planners who put power lines underground!). Thunderstorms also wreak havoc with air travel - as I experienced to my horror last year when I was trapped overnight at D.C.'s Dulles Airport. And, of course, in the worst-case scenario, thunderstorms can also spawn tornados - nature's single most destrucitve form of weather.

Admittedly, rain can be destructive, but rain remains life-giving - and can as often as not be be gentle and refreshing. It is no accident that the Old Testament calendar commences in autumn, when the life-giving rains return to refresh the parched desert climate after the scorching summer. Somehow, we inherited some of that mindset - as reflected, for example, in the traditional autumn start of the school year. My memory may be selective, but it seems to me the first day of school was often rainy when I was growing up. (Perhaps, my memory is influenced by having begun school one year during Hurricane Donna!) Here, while we don't wait till autumn to begin school, we at least had a rainy morning for the opening of school today. A refreshing start to another school year!

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