Over the last 36 hours it has rained about 8-1/2 inches here. The variety of responses to this most unusual event really interested me. Here are a few samples of what I heard:
• I just wanted to stay home and read a book today.
• I went out between showers and pulled a few weeds – it’s so easy when the ground is wet.
• My shoes are ruined!
• I can sit on my porch and listen to the rain for hours.
• 200 pounds of mulch washed down the hill!
• My dogs refused to go outside until it had passed.
• You can thank me for all this rain – I bought a convertible yesterday!
Aren’t we amazing? In the midst of this collectively experienced event, we all respond differently. It’s remarkable that shared experience does not give us shared viewpoints. Some of the people I quoted above acknowledged the rain as blessing, some saw it as an inconvenience and yet others were frightened by it. Even within those broader responses there were many subtle shadings. Our collective experience only gives us a common memory; the experience shapes each of us differently.
I used to think that as a mother I could shape my child’s world view. I thought that if I consistently described the world in glass-half-full language that would be the way she saw it. It seemed logical that if the unknown was consistently presented as exciting, and the child was made to feel competent, that she would skip off into the future with great expectations and reasonable caution. Looking back, I have to shake my head at my own arrogance. Why would I think I could form a better perspective than the one supplied by the Creator? God knows (and I mean that literally) what we are going to need for our individual life journeys. I’m sure I was equipped from birth with optimism because God knew I was going to need it. I think my acquaintance whose mulch washed down the hill was given a crazy sense of humor because his life was going to require him to find humor in difficult situations. God, who can control ALL the variables, still made each of us unique.
Another remarkable layer to this rain event: Only last summer Austin had the worst drought conditions in 50 years. Our big lake was so low that there were almost no boats on it and businesses all around it were going broke. It seemed it would take many years of generous rains to even make a dent in the dryness of our region. Today, we sit under flood warnings because of the exceptional amounts of rain we have received and the lake levels are the highest in decades.
The power of the Creator is beyond belief – whether you look at rain that can fill immense canyons to overflowing in a few hours or at human beings, each uniquely endowed with the gifts needed to navigate the future – it defies description. In the face of all these thoughts, I can only exclaim in wonder with the writer of Psalm 104:
24 Lord, you have made so many things! How wisely you made them all! The earth is filled with your creatures. 25 There is the ocean, large and wide, where countless creatures live, large and small alike. 26 The ships sail on it, and in it plays Leviathan, that sea monster which you made. (TEV)
Thanks be to God for gifts of water, and perspective!