Let the Rain Fall

TBM Topic 20: Moments that remind us God fully exists

“Let the Rain Fall” by Julie Robison
“Little Moments” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“The Mount” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

You could say I was lookin’ fly. Rain boots with sailboats; orange soccer shorts; a navy blue raincoat pull-over. Correction: I was lookin’ super-fly. I was all set for an impromptu walk in the rain with my boyfriend and his family’s dog.

We walked around his neighborhood, talking and occasionally calling to his dog. We returned to the house wet and happy. It was the end of another fun weekend together. We talked about our future and its possibilities; we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company; we looked at each other and knew we are blessed.

In this past week, I’ve read a couple Why I’m Catholic stories. When non-believers read such conversion stories, they are generally unconvinced. The responses I usually see are “lame” and “unbelievable” and “that person probably wasn’t a real atheist.”

When our Protestant brethren talk the Real Presence of Christ, they are not referring to Transubstantiation. They are talking about knowing Christ and thus recognizing his presence in the sacredness of the ordinary.

My sister taking pictures on the Marienbrucke in Germany

Take rain for instance; it can often have a negative connotation. For instance, the phrases “raining on my parade” and “It was a dark and rainy night,” Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” and the Allman Brothers’ “Bad Rain”, and the fact that rain’s usual company, overcast weather, tends to depress people.

Rain can also be renewing. Rainbows come after the rain, as does puddle jumping, more vegetation and horticultural growth, and, as one 11 year old optimist put it, “It makes you appreciate the sunny days that we get and makes them more enjoyable!”

I happen to love the rain. I love walking in it, I love being in it*, I love listening to it, and I am grateful for it. Rain is a blessing, literally from above.

My senior year of college, in my last few weeks, my beloved Aunt died. My thesis was due and the time crunch was too severe, so my family told me not to come down for the funeral. The day of the funeral, I wrote a poem entitled “The Rain.” It rained in Michigan the day of my Aunt’s funeral. I imagined it was God’s tears. (Sentimental, I am.) It is not a great poem (the blog published version is its first draft form), but these last lines partly captures my appreciation and love of rain:

and here I am, still at school, no time to think about leaving,
no more time to cry while my heart still mourns,
but instead relish in the rain: people are running
from building to building and all I think
is how she can no longer feel the rain hit her face
or get cold, or smile, or walk, or skip,
and so I do all of these as I move through the rain,
my funeral procession of one,
the still living.

As I walked through the rain with B. last weekend, I could smile because I am alive. In the rain, I am reminded of God’s covenant with his people. In the rain, I can understand why grace can hurt. Every year on Good Friday, my family prays together on the steps in Mt. Adams for two hours, and every year it rains. Not always exactly at noon, but between the hours of 12 and 3 p.m., the time of Jesus hanging dead on the cross, the sky grows dark and the earth shakes. And then it rains.

My sister and I in the rain as wee tots

It is when it rains that I know God fully exists. It is when I am praying, eyes closed and hands clasped; asking, seeking, knocking – I come before God in faith alone. There is nothing more I can often do but trust. There is nothing to be gained through holding the weight on my shoulders, when Christ already paid the price to have such pains airlifted. In the rain and the discomfort of being wet, I am most receptive and aware of the importance of offering it up to God, whatever “it”** may be for each individual.

Without trying to disconnect my theology from my naturalistic experiences, I’d like to add that rain reminds me of God because we cannot know the ways of rain. It can just as easily be a foe and turn to sleet, hail or ice as it can beautify one’s garden and grass. Rain gives no reason for its coming and going, nor offers sound logic for its patterns. But rain does not answer to me, and neither does God.

During the times when studying theology becomes more theory and less love affair, it is the physicality of rain that appeals to me, just as my physical reception of Holy Communion is necessary, and spending time with our Lord in Eucharistic adoration. It is in Christ that I am alive, and his presence – made actual through the Liturgy or apparent through his world – I cherish, as I grow to know him deeper and in different ways, and so have more Love for him.

Edith Stein once said that God shows himself too much; that he offers too much proof of his existence. I believe that. I think the power and grandeur of God really is too overwhelming for us to truly comprehend. God shows himself, as Jesus said in the Gospel on Sunday, in the poor, sick, homeless, and imprisoned. I think he also shows himself through the beauty of art, music, science, the wideness of the galaxy, and the intrinsic complexity of the world. This world says to me, there is a God and he is good, because he made this for us. God did not make evil, which taints the world, but he can sanctify it.

In this same vein, I believe rain is a sanctifying agent in the world. It renews. It revives. It gives hope. It can tear down in order to make us build up again. It takes away so that the Lord may giveth. Rain, so ordinary, is so sacred. With every drop of rain comes a blessing to be counted, and I’m thankful the rain reminds me of God’s graciousness and from whom all blessings flow.

What do you think of the rain? What kind of moments is God fully alive to you?

*My sister may correct me here; walking up a huge hill to a castle in Germany in a downpour with our tour group was not an overly agreeable experience; if only I had remembered my rain jacket!
**For some, it is shrubbery!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, dear readers! Here is some extra reading: “The Weight of Glory” by C.S. Lewis

Building Up My Excuse Wall Nice And High

Sorry my latest Bright Maidens post is late… again. I wasn’t out of the country this time. I wasn’t recovering from jet lag either. I did drive my brother to the doctor and then to his interview with the Navy, but that shouldn’t have prevented me from posting. My laptop refusing to turn on, however, did.

Okay Julie, you’re thinking. Not a big deal. Just a post. You couldn’t have prevented your computer from deciding to go black and then have little Windows icon to swirl around for hours.

But, I beg to differ. I missed a deadline.

In professional journalism, my past life, that doesn’t happen. You miss a deadline and… well, bad news bears, yo. You’re messin’ with the lay-out folks now. I used to lose a lot of sleep under the pressure of a deadline. It was wonderful and exhilarating. I took pride in it. I liked how hard I could work under pressure, and the beautiful prose tapped out of my fingertips.

As some older readers know, I used to be a reporter. I covered the statehouse and had a jolly good time. Then, for many reasons, I quit, moved home and began writing and researching for the family business. I’m still Arts and Letters Editor of a quarterly, but I’ve mostly hopped off my journalism perch, and am enjoying a more distant view of a business I once thought of as my life.

As Girl Scouts taught me, make new friends, but keep the old

It is amazing what distance will do for perspective. I talked to a good friend last week, and he asked me about what I am up to. The conversation almost made me laugh from glee, that pithy C.S. Lewis line about telling God your plans coming to mind, and I told my friend how much I am enjoying life. We have been friends since college: he knew me when I was dead-set on D.C., saw me lean towards marketing, helped edit my first academic journal piece, and has been a wonderful friend to me. My update was much longer than his, for better or worse. He’s still on the same track: rocking med school.

On one hand, I envy those in medical or law school, those working in their field of choice, those who shaken off the dust of their hometown and have arrived on the scene in the big city. There’s a plan and a path, and the fruit of one’s hard work can usually be seen on a larger scale. They’re makin’ their mark, and they won’t stop until they get there.

But where are they going, exactly?

I find there’s something alluring about striking out on my own path, beating my own drum, figuring “it” out. Belle sings in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast about the provincial life, saying she wants more and declaring that there must be more!

I sympathize with Belle, but only to an extent. I work for my family business. I like it, but sometimes I forget that one must work within one’s postage stamp of native soil to really excel. It takes experiences like talking to good friends to remind me of what I have, and how blessed I am to be at home.

Every choice is a give and take, and I’m freely and no longer choosing the promise of a career over my relationships with people. (Not that other people in their respective fields necessarily are– but I was, which is my point.)

Leaping down the hill in Georgia

Living at home again has taught me how to handle the unexpected. I have to be diligent at work, or else I won’t be able to get my work done on time when my parents need me to take my brother-with-mono to the doctor again.

In two weeks, I have a couple book reviews due. I need to plan ahead to make deadline, which includes Saturday Fun (a.k.a. all house clean-up) and washing dinner dishes. I’m helping someone do research for a book: there’s a schedule I have to keep to. I might go overseas again; I play tennis on Tuesdays, see friends and B. through the week, and go on walk-runs with my dog. I’m doing my own research, and writing letters, and writing more articles, including my Bright Maidens posts.

I realized today: I really should plan to publish earlier than the day of. Life happens, but that doesn’t mean writing shouldn’t.

Thus, I am sorry, sort of.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be. Maybe you didn’t even notice, dear readers, but nonetheless, please accept my apology for tardiness and bear witness to my persistence in attempting to publish things on time. I will return to my old habits, mostly.

As Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring (which I am listening to during my daily hour commute, to lessen the time brunt), “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I’m not sorry I’m spending my time with people, but I am for not publishing on time, which is, in a way, an opportunity to spend time and share my thoughts with y’all, as you share back with me.

Here’s something to read in the meantime: Knocking at the Door: Musings on history, philosophy, theology, literature, and culture. It’s a blog by my good friend Mitch, a grad student at TCU studying the Civil War. He also features the above Tolkien quote and offers lovely commentary on things he reads.

Also worth a skim: Holy Women & Everyday Hero Priests -UPDATE by Elizabeth Scalia

Happy Wednesday, y’all! And thanks for reading.