TBM Topic 20: Moments that remind us God fully exists
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