I woke up early this morning, as the first rays of pre-dawn light were just beginning to touch the sky, grabbed my giant mug o’ coffee and settled in front of my bedroom window like I do every morning. I looked outside and saw movement near one of the street lights, a faint shimmer in the pale morning light. I blinked to make sure I wasn’t imagining things and hurried to the window to get a closer look. I squealed gleefully and grabbed my phone to text my mom, giddy as a kid on Christmas morning – “It’s raining!!!!!!”
I have never been more deeply thankful for rain. As much as I’m ashamed to admit this [as a native Californian living in a state that’s been in a severe drought for the past several years] I usually view rain as an annoyance, preventing me from doing what I want to do – go for a long run, sit on an outdoor patio for brunch, have a frizz-free hair day. Today I don’t feel one ounce of annoyance – all I feel is deep, deep gratitude and the poignant reminder of how dependent I am on God’s goodness and provision.
I’m in a fellowship program this year and one of the books we’re reading is on ecofeminism [a word I had never heard of before and still don’t feel 100% confident I fully grasp] written by a Catholic nun in Brazil. One of the themes she talks about is how a connection to the earth, to the environment, is essential for an authentic connection to God, and I think she’s right.
Most days my life feels about as removed from the rhythms of the natural earth as you can get. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley and I work at a tech company where my days are spent typing emails and talking to people over screens. When I need to get from one place to another I use an app on my phone to summon a car to pick me up and drop me off. When I’m hungry I go to a grocery store where every food I could ever want is neatly arranged in rows, and the only challenging labor I have to engage in to get fed is figure out which line at Whole Foods is shorter.
I know agricultural life is far from idyllic, and I don’t want to mythologize or romanticize life on a farm, but I do often think that it might be easier to stay connected to God if my daily life were full of reminders of my dependence on Him for my very survival. If my life and livelihood depended on forces beyond my control, and I was forced every day to go to God in prayer to ask Him to bring the rain – I think my faith might look radically different.
I love my life and I would be useless on a farm, but the danger with my modern way of living is that I too easily fall into the delusion of self-sufficiency. Because the truth is that my very life is dependent on God, but that dependency is hidden behind so many layers of modernity that I have to work hard to see it. I am so many degrees removed from the rain that is necessary to make the organic carrot grow that by the time I put it in my shopping basket at Whole Foods I can too easily buy into the lie that I am feeding myself, and I don’t need anyone’s help – a farmer or God’s – to make my life run.
But the truth – the glorious and grounding truth – is that I am utterly dependent on God for the very breath in my lungs, the beat of my heart, the ability to bend my legs and get out of bed in the morning. I am dependent on God for the provision of my job, the neurons firing in my brain that enable me to stare at those screens and type those emails, the blessing of people who support and champion me in that work. I am utterly dependent on God for every good and perfect gift in my life, and when I am reminded and reconnected to that truth I am so, so grateful.
This morning as I saw the rain fall I felt wonder and awe and deep deep gratitude – bringing a clear, clean respite from the smoke filled air and providing help and relief to the firefighters battling the fires. I imagined people all over Northern California turning their weary faces to the sky and feeling the refreshment of that rain, a baptism of hope and a new start, breathing new life.
Have you ever noticed the trope in romantic comedies that the climactic final kiss tends to happen in a downpour? I wonder if part of the reason is that rain is actually a really good metaphor for that head over heels, swept off your feet, crazy-in-love kind of love – a force that you can’t stop or control, that is so much bigger and more beautiful than our human understanding can grasp, an awe-producing miracle.
So today I am thanking the God who brings the rain, and asking Him to continue to pour out His blessings of fresh starts, new beginnings and abundant grace, hope and love into all of our lives.