I’ve been reading, through a couple of online writers’ forums, about the havoc being wrought recently by weather on this continent: tornadoes full of rain and wind in Pennsylvania, hurricane damage in Nova Scotia that left a fellow writer without power for almost a week. While we’ve been in the desperate grip of drought here in New Mexico, rain has been cascading down on soaked landscapes elsewhere.
Fortunately for New Mexico, our summer “monsoon” rains have finally arrived. After months of completely clear blue skies, day after day, it’s wonderful to see clouds build up, pregnant with water, and empty themselves over the landscape in afternoon torrents of rainwater. More unusual have been a couple of nights or early mornings where the gentle drip of a light rain has woken me from sleep.
In this monsoon season I love to watch the rain clouds billow and darken, shifting as the prevailing winds push them across our skyscape. Lighting and thunder frequently come along for the ride. Many days I can literally see the rain, like curtains hanging from the sky (and called virga when they don’t reach the ground), advancing toward us across the desert landscape until it descends upon our land and drives me under the porch or indoors with its fierce pounding. Other days the clouds almost seem to bob and sway, moving directly toward us and then veering off to water a different patch of desperately dry ground.
I see a connection between these clouds and our spiritual lives. There are seasons that feel dry as a bone, with nary a nourishing cloud in sight. These seasons can feel endless, and while we know how critical the sun is in our lives (from both scientific and spiritual perspectives), we can come to feel only the thirst and the heat, until our souls cry out for the rain.
In other seasons, the clouds come not as blessing but with threat and power, dragging wind, lightning and torrents of rain along with them, wreaking havoc and destruction upon our frail human structures. The earth cannot absorb the quantities of water, causing floods and mudslides which further disturb our carefully ordered lives. In those times we desperately long for the calm of a dry, sunny day.
And then there are those seasons where the rain comes more gently and moderately, in dancing rhythm with the sunshine, at a rate which allows earth to absorb it, and vegetation to drink deep and flourish.
Which type of spiritual season are you experiencing in your life right now? Does your relationship with God feel dry and desolate, or is there so much happening to test and strengthen you that you long for some peace and calm? Or is there a sense of balance in your spiritual life, of rain and sun, of ebb and flow, of gift and grace?
Can you gather strength, from the memory of other seasons, to endure whatever type of season you are now experiencing?