Romanticizing the Rain

To truly have a soft spot for rain, it helps to have grown up with a screened porch and no air conditioning. I remember my mom spending many hours sitting on our porch in the Indiana summers. It was a good place to read, to watch the neighborhood squirrels, and to watch the neighborhood in general.

It was also a great place to take in a summer shower. To smell the rain as it moved in. To listen to it hit the roof and the ground outside. To hear the cars driving through puddles. To feel the refreshing coolness the shower often brought to a hot day. Falling asleep to rain was also a summer sweetness, especially if it was a nice, steady rain with no wind, so the windows could be wide open. It was peaceful and soothing.

But as nice as rain in town was, nothing beat rain at the cottage we used to rent in southern Michigan when I was young. It had a full-width screen porch that was all screen. It had a porch swing and the porch railings were made from small logs with the bark removed to reveal little grooves presumably made by carpenter ants.

The cottage looked out over a lake and during a thunderstorm on a June evening, when the wind cooperated to not soak you, that porch swing was the best seat in the house, with the rain hitting the lake, the rumble of thunder, and the flashes of lightning illuminating the whole scene for a split second before returning to darkness. I always slept in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and having rain patter on the roof and a breeze coming in the window was as close to a spiritual experience as I had as a 12-year old boy. If it was cool enough to warrant a fire in the big stone fireplace, that was even better.

Now I live in the Pacific Northwest and it has been raining all week. I am told I can expect it to continue for the next several months. As I sit here listening to the water in the downspout outside my window, I am okay with that. It brings back some good childhood memories.

In the intervening 30 years, I have also come to understand that rain can, in fact, be a spiritual experience. I can thank the one who sends the wind and the rain. As a kid, I felt a bit childish to think that a gentle breeze wafting across me as I lie in bed was the hand of God, but now I feel quite confident that it is exactly that.

Rain, outside of the worldwide flood of Noah’s time, is portrayed as a blessing in Scripture. In agrarian societies it is a necessity and a lack of it is certainly a curse. Even as someone removed from growing my own food, I still try to see it as a blessing every chance I get.


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