Rain, by Cynthia Barnett

Image courtesy of Crown Publishing

Image courtesy of Crown Publishing

Cynthia Barnett’s Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, is exactly the kind of natural history book I love. It’s lyrical (as you’d expect, since rain figures in many poems and songs) and informative and just plain fun to read.

It’s also a good reminder that no matter how plastic and artificial our lives sometimes feel, rain is wild, unpredictable and precious.

For those of us who live in urban areas, it’s easy to forget how vital and extraordinary rainfall is, until there’s not enough of it, and farms blow away as dust, and the price of bread soars. At other times, we notice only when there’s too much rain and our basements flood, or worse, entire buildings are swept away in raging currents.

Throughout history, rain has influenced the migration of animals and the movement of human populations. The lack of rain emptied our wallets when we looked to “rainmakers,” charlatans who claimed the ability to conjure rain from clear skies (did you know the U.S. Congress bankrolled a bunch of rainmakers in the 1890s? Yet another example of taxpayer dollars literally going down the drain). On the flip side, the abundance of rain has led us to re-sculpt the earth with dams and dikes and levees and canals.

Rain has inspired writers; think Ray Bradbury, who imagined a rainy red planet in The Martian Chronicles, or Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time, a recounting of the Dust Bowl years. With the success of The Weather Channel and its slicker-clad meteorologists reporting from the field, rain has even become must-see TV.

Barnett’s book is fascinating, written in an accessible, interesting style. Although my copy was provided free through LibraryThing.com, my opinions are my own and I recommend this book.

Brave Seeds

We had a fierce storm last night–I mean, fierce. The winds were so strong, they blew rain right through the window screens, into the house and all over the floor, which made me hop up out of bed, when I realized what was happening, and grab a mob.

But before I rescued our floors, I ran out to the porch, where I’d left a couple of trays of seedlings. I knew that our gutters were packed with the last of autumn’s leaves, and soon rain would be pouring onto the railings where the seed trays sat. I saved them in time, although they took a bit of a beating from all that water.

When I got up this morning, I made the picture you see above. Not very impressive, is it? Just a plastic tray with a few tiny green shoots coming up. Or maybe that’s all you see at first glance. Squint a little, please, and use your imagination, and maybe you’ll see more.

To me, these are brave little seedlings. They’re still small and fragile. One hungry bird could take them out in a quick peck, or they could collapse from a fungal disease, since this spring has been cool and wet. But they haven’t.  At least, not yet. They’re still standing, just growing their tiny hearts out.

Maybe it sounds silly, but I love that. Isn’t that what we are called to do, everyday? Sometimes we get pounded by the storms, and they can hit in our darker hours, when we’re feeling weak and defenseless. But you know something? We’re stronger than we guess, because we have have a living Spirit in us, just as these little plants have a life-spirit in them.

My seedlings made it through a bad-weather night, and now I’m looking forward to seeing them grow and bear fruit (tomatoes and peppers, in case you’re wondering). So, too, the Father waits for us to grow and bear fruit, and we can do this, because we know that the storms are not bigger or stronger than His love.

“…I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last….This is my command: love one another.” John 15:1-6-17, NIV

grace and peace,