I am awoken to thunder. I hear the pounding of the rain against the window as the downpour continues outside. It is the first time in months that those sounds surround me and in an instant, just like every spring, the memories come flooding back. I smile. Peace washes over me as I drift back off to sleep.
I love the rain. I love hearing the pitter patter of the drops on the ground, I love the scent of the breeze as a storm rolls through. I love walking in a park and feeling the tiny pangs of water against my skin. My stress level decreases. My hands unclench. My muscles release the tension I didn’t even realize was there.
I have heard people say they feel sad when there is too much rain. There is a reason why Seattle is known as one of the most depressed places on earth – it’s always raining. One of the weird things about me is that I am the opposite; I feel happier the more it rains. During the summer, if there is even a week without rain, I feel more tired and more tense. It’s like the sun saps my energy while the rain gives it back. Seattle seems like a dream city to me.
I’m not sure why I feel this way. Growing up, I would get upset whenever rain postponed a baseball game of mine. So many barbecues and parties have been canceled due to rain. One of my least favorite feelings I had as a child was when any clothing I was wearing got wet; seriously, I would change my shirt if I spilled even a little bit of water on it. Wetness brings about discomfort, and there are few things I dislike more than being uncomfortable. So why this deviation from the mean? Why do I like rain so much?
Part of it is the metaphor of rain, the lesson we can learn from it. When rain falls, a lot of people grumble. Plans get canceled, people retreat to the safety of their homes, roads get dangerous to drive on. Rain messes with our status quo. However, rain is a necessary factor for growth and change. As the old adage goes, April showers bring May flowers. To go from the dead of winter to a blossoming spring, we need the rain. A farmer’s fields need rain in order to produce a thriving crop.
In order to grow in our own lives, we need those days of discomfort. We need to be interrupted from the sunshine and come face to face with clouds and darkness if we want to live fuller lives. Personal storms are necessary to produce a thriving spiritual, physical, and emotional crop.
The other aspect is that I confront God in the rain. I remember standing on a hill in Racine Wisconsin as a 14 year old boy scared to death of an incoming storm, but not wanting to show it in front of his friends. We all stared into the distance as this wall of darkness got bigger and bigger as it came bearing down on us. Lightning flashed from all sides and I was convinced that it would bring destruction. I remember praying feverishly to God for protection. It lasted 30 minutes and we were all safe.
Another time in college, I stood on the shore of a lake and watched a large thunderstorm make its way across the lake. That day had already been one of the hardest days of my life emotionally. I wrote a song at the train station yelling at God to show up and do something, begging for the silence to end. And here God was, over the middle of this lake, bellowing at my challenge. The wind whipped, the lightning flashed, and the thunder boomed. But no rain ever came. The storm passed over the lake and never made it to our side. But once it was over, I felt at peace again. God had answered. It was not in the way I imagined, but I knew it was God’s presence at once. The stories of both Job and Elijah rang in my ears.
These are the memories that flood back when I hear the rain fall. Not only that, but I remember hours of ultimate frisbee in the middle of a downpour. I remember church picnics and running out from under the gazebo to splash in puddles. I remember baseball games played through rain and the added victory of triumphing over the elements as well as the other team. I remember peaceful days of rest with my wife, staring out our window,
The rain brings me peace. I’m glad it’s finally back.