This morning I met up with a friend for coffee and morning prayer before work at a local coffee shop. I realized as I got into the car and made my way to the center of town that it has bee quite a while since I had an early morning meeting for which I have to venture off campus. Having my office in the church-and living in the rectory just next to the church, my time "outside" in the morning consists of a few short seconds as I walk across the yard. That translates to something around 200-250 feet...maybe. Often, I am thinking about the day's tasks yet to come, about the last conversation I had with my wife before I left or perhaps working out what I am going to say during the first phone calls of the morning. Often, the dog is with me, and as she is getting older and tends to hang back, I am urging her to keep up.
This was the first morning I have had time to reflect on the world outside of my own little, self-involved reverie in a long time...and it has been a lovely morning.
We have been laboring under hot, dry weather for weeks now. The grass is dry, dormant and brittle to the touch. The trees are starting to shed and our neighborhood sycamores are making the roads and sidewalks look like autumn as they blanket the pavement with shreds of peeling bark and dead leaves. Everything is aching for moisture, and has been for a long time. The town is on water restrictions and folks have been asked to refrain from watering their lawns and excessive use of what is now a scarce resource.
So, as I left the coffee shop and looked up into the sky, I saw rain clouds filling the horizon. What has been an unbroken, azure oppression of dry air for weeks has given way to a hanging tapestry of textured grey clouds that are heavy with moisture. Makes me thirsty, just remembering it as I sit here in my office writing on the computer. All the signs are there...the birds are flying low to the ground, the leaves of the trees are flipping bottom-side up in the wind, which has shifted to a new quarter as a low front blows in. There just might be rain, today....
We need it, both physically and spiritually. Droughts are sneaky things. They build up momentum almost without us noticing, that is if we don't choose to notice! Beautiful, dry days are welcome...at least until there are too many in a row. Then, it starts to get tough. For everyone. Birds and animals become bolder as they look for water and moist soil. Plants start to conserve energy and what was the verdant, green world of late spring becomes a dry, forbidding time of hoping for a soaking just good enough to get us back to square one.
Of late, my prayers have been filled with images of that craving for water and moist refreshment. So many hymns to God in the psalms talk about God being a cool draught of water in a dry waste...or of a moist breeze catching us off-guard during a desert passage. Today, my prayer is for rain...we need it.
I also realize that prayer for rain is not just about getting some water to fall out of the sky to refresh the face of the earth. It is also an invitation to again see God as a refreshment for the heart of the Church and the depth of my soul.....