Raining in Hope
March, the usual start of Spring, arrived a few day ago and, ever since, I have been contemplating Spring, and everything it represents. Nearly everything about Spring is something I enjoy–my children watered the flower seeds they planted a few days ago, while driving past a field I pass nearly every day, I was surprised to see buttercups in full bloom; the sweet breeze that wafts across my skin as I step outside at night to stare at the stars whispers of cool waters and days spent in the sun. The heavy coats go away, replaced with rain boots and shorter sleeves. There are more birds in the air chirping again and, when we go to the park, we see more nests.
And then there is the rain.
A few years ago, the residents of my city learned that water can be dangerous. Rain can cause flooding, and flooding can be catastrophic, traumatic. We receive our share of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, too. Purple lightning flashed within sight of me recently, raising my pulse a bit. Rain can feel dreary, and it doesn’t take many rainy days to start missing the brilliance and welcoming rays of the sun. This is especially true when the rain falls not in droplets of water but in one difficult or sad situation after another. There are as many examples of emotional rain as there are people. It soaks us, making us feel heavy. It resounds in our ears, making it difficult to hear the birds’ song. Sometimes it isn’t even a major life event that floods our optimism; sometimes it’s just a period in which quiet discontentment fills our thoughts and stays with us. Rain isn’t usually thought of as a symbol of hope. But, for me, it is.
Today, I was reminded that rain plays a critical part in the environment, and in bringing us seasons we most enjoy, like Spring and Summer. Without rain, the trees would never have their magnificent colors because the leaves wouldn’t grow. The flowers wouldn’t bloom. The earthworms would stay uncovered. Mud pies would be a lost art form. Without rain, the harvests would die. Without rain, the world would be void of vibrant colors. Rain is a good thing. I’m fairly sure that every little girl on the planet has, at one point or another, dreamed of being swept off her feet in the pouring rain. Even in heavy downfalls, I encourage my girls to change into swimsuits, get outside and dance in it. I often times join them and relish the feel of the cold droplets hitting my skin. There is something freeing about standing in the middle of a downpour, arms outstretched and letting it soak you rather than feeling the need to run from it. I love going on “puddle hunts” where we try to find puddles big enough to make a splash.
When the emotional, torrential downpours begins, when one event after another leaves me feeling heavy and exhausted, I try to pretend that I’m outside, standing in the pouring rain. Running from the problems, trying to hide the scars, only makes me work harder. It rarely works, too, and even when it does, it leaves me feeling alone because the people from whom I’ve run don’t really know me then at all. Natural disasters, tragic accidents, betrayal can all create oceans of tears and it can be hard to stand under their weight. But then I remember the rain… while it can create a flood, it’s main purpose is to give new life, to refresh things, to bring Spring. When approached with focus and a healthy dose of faith, obstacles can end up enriching our lives by making us stronger, by encouraging us to draw closer to God and to others, by reminding us to appreciate the small things in life first, by giving us character and resilience. First, you weather the rain, then you bloom. Rainbows come after the storm, offering peace, beauty and hope, a promise that no matter what it felt like, you weren’t alone through the rain. Birds sing after the rain stops, a joyous song that seems to triumphantly shout: “I made it!”
Spring is about hope, about the dawning of a new day, a new forecast is in store. No more hiding behind bundled coats, gloves and hats with our faces tucked inside our chins: it’s time to lift our eyes to the heavens and see the clear skies, time to start making shapes out of the clouds. Baby chicks will soon be born, and they’ll follow around their mothers. They’ll learn how to swim. They’ll flap the wings and waddle along near the water’s edge. As you drive home each day, you’ll likely see more people riding their bicycles along the sidewalks, a snapshot of a life enjoying the idyllic peace of nature. I don’t own a bicycle, I haven’t since I was a kid. But the other day, while in Target, I saw one and then I passed the bells you can attach to the bikes and my heart, wearied after a rather challenging storm, beat hard. The storm has passed, it’s left a rubble of lessons and a lot of water to soak up. I can’t see it yet, frankly, but I know one day soon I’m going to lift my eyes and see the rainbow…. I can already hear the birds singing.