Finally, sometime yesterday afternoon while Laura and I were at a brunch/anniversary celebration for some parishioners, it started to rain.
Granted, it is not the onslaught going on beneath the clouds with Hurricane Dean down in Jamaica, nor is it the astounding deluge that folks on the coast in Texas are dealing with, nor are we bracing right now for repeats of the floodings we have had the past couple of years...but we do need the rain and I thank God that our showers seem to be doing us the favor of irrigation without the need for evacuation at the moment.
The past weeks have been sunny and pleasant for the most part, and thanks to the presence of our new Assistant Rector and the supportive efforts of staff and volunteers, I have been able to enjoy a bit of that favorable weather-whereas in years past I have been stapled to my office desk in preparation for the advent of the program year. We are still just as busy...more so in some ways after a summer of heavy attendance and program coupled up lately with numerous pastoral concerns in the parish...but the "burthens" seem lighter. They are spread more broadly.
So, today being quiet with most folks out on vacation, medical leave, etc, I have a chance to catch up on some blogging, some paperwork and even take a moment or two to look out my window and see a world freshing up a bit from the tired brown of August heat, into something slightly greener and a bit more vibrant.
I can tell that respite of rain was needed. When I was installed as rector of Trinity, the parish planted a dogwood outside my office in celebration and in thanksgiving to God for a new season of growth. I have watched that tree for two and a half years now...through 11 seasons now. It has grown and held its own through rain, snow, sleet, heat and drought. It has bloomed and fruited a couple of times now...and I am impressed by how vital...and how fragile...and how entwined...our mutual presence on this little hillside in Solebury truly is.
I guess I celebrate the rain on many levels...for the life it grants us and for the reminded of periods of refreshment it proffers...and also for the invitation to slow down enough to note that all things live by the grace of God.
A couple of parishes back, I had in one of my midweek worship groups a woman who was both a Bohemian saint and a prolific poet. By the time I met her, she was a weathered and bent brush oak of a person. Her voice was gravel and her skin leather from years of smoking. Her posture was bent by osteoporosis and her entrances were announced by the squeak of her walker's wheels as she moved around the parish. I don't think I have ever met someone who was such an icon of an adventurous life turned toward aging as its final frontier. During my tenure, she moved from her own apartment to a senior living facility...and because she was not allowed to smoke inside the building, she would walk up and down the village's main street with her morning, afternoon and evening cigarettes sticking out of her mouth. She puffed up and down the avenue with such regularity that the police and service people in the town nicknamed her the "Midtown Direct" after the train that ran alongside her route with somewhat less regularity.
One morning...grey and cloudy as this one is, she and I were standing in the sacristy before the morning Eucharist and talking about the seasons of life. I remarked that lately I had the odd sense of seeing trees outside my house and office in two ways. First, in full leaf and then with their winter's bones showing. Didn't matter the time of year. If the green was on, I could see the bones and vice versa. It was, I told her, like seeing a movie all at once. But, oddly, I wasn't upset by the vision. It just was...just a tree being itself no matter what phase it was in.
"You," she said, "are too young yet to see such things." Her poet's sense was awake, though...and she added on...."just wait till you see people in the same way. Humbling, really."
Maybe that is why the dogwood outside the office window is so arresting today as the rains give it a moment's respite from the dog days of August. We all have seasons, and sometimes we can see them all together with a gift of perspective that bridges seasons, times and generations. Humbling, really.