Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rain After a Drought

Here on the California Central Coast, we're in year three of a drought. There wasn't enough rain this year to grow the grass that feeds the range cattle. We're on water rationing. Things could get much worse. A lot of people around here are praying for rain.
This morning, it's balmy in my sunroom, and my fingers aren't chunks of ice because.....IT'S RAINING! The rain patters on my glass roof, sometimes heavy, sometimes soft. Gusts of wind make giant oak limbs sway, make the sycamores shudder. There's a whole bunch of motion in the trees, that rain dance that proves the invisible wind is a visible force. Once I heard that if you have trouble believing in God, consider him to be like the wind. You can't hold the wind, or see it, but you can feel it on your skin and see the evidence of its passage.
Late September and October are grape harvest times. Maybe the only people in this region who are troubled by the rain are grape growers, who might worry about the rain's effect on the vines or how to get in the harvest, given the weather.
This photo of a spot down the road from me was taken by a friend named Robert Stevenson. He's a good photographer who volunteers much of his time and work to the downtown nonprofit association. It's part of a national organization dedicated to saving old downtowns and reviving them, called the National Main Street Association. In 2004, I wrote an application for an award called The National Main Street City Award, which honors the preservation and economic revitalization of a dying downtown.
We won that national award. Our Main Street organization has done a tremendous job of preserving and revitalizing our once-pathetic downtown, dying because of shopping centers built on the perimeters. One elderly woman runs the association, assisted by one executive assistant, and hundreds, literally hundreds, of volunteers who do the work.
In 2004, when I wrote the application for the national award, I interviewed an architect who was instrumental in both the start-up of the project and its current status. His name was Rand Salke. He spoke of downtowns as if they were living ecosystems, beings that people could help to thrive. He was funny, smart, and a big help in my telling of the history of our downtown.
He killed himself this year. He suffered from a sudden depression, a big one, that blinded him to his talents, his value to others, his young daughters' need for him, his wife's love, and everything else that blessed his life. He refused to take medication.
A month earlier, my beloved cousin Julie died of complications from diabetes and a transplant. She fought to live almost all her life. What gave her strength to keep up the fight, as her body tried to die a hundred times, was her relationship with God. She talked with him daily, studied the Bible, encouraged struggling friends, and was best friends with her husband and her mother, my beloved aunt who is the sister of my demented mom. Julie did her best to live. She took dozens of medications for the transplant and the complications. She did whatever was necessary to live a full, contented life.
A couple of weeks after Rand hung himself, one of our young AA girls commited suicide. She had managed to stay sober for several months, but she had a mental illness, she heard voices, and she refused to take the medication to treat the illness. The voices told her that the solution was to die and go to heaven.
There's a point to my rambling about death and medication. Even the rain factors in. We all live on hope: hope that the paycheck will come, the car will work, the spouse will keep loving you, the sun will rise again tomorrow. We hope we'll make a difference in someone's life. We hope our poetry is good enough. We hope we'll stay sober one more day. We hope for what we cannot see: a good future, a contented life, a God who loves us individually and who uses all things for the good of those who love him.
When hope dies, the man dies. Maybe not literally, but the spark dies inside. Rain is a form of hope. I hope the earth will be replenished, the thirst of the earth will be satisfied. I'm having trouble with generating hope, feeling like my faith is fragile. But the doctors told me if I take the medications, I'll feel better. I take the meds, so there must be some hope. Thanks for listening. My husband says I have stop now and go to a meeting. Suit up and show up. Take the body, and the mind will follow. AA gives us hope.


Syd said...

Chris, there is much to have hope about. I just have to look around at all the beauty about and it generates a lot of hope and faith that things will be okay. I'm an optimist. Wishing you a good day filled with hope.

lakeviewer said...

"Rain is a form of hope...God is like the wind...Take the body, and the mind will follow..."

Your thoughts and actions touch and inspire.

Karen said...

You write so beautifully, Chris. You have such God-given talent -- and the blessings of a wonderful, supportive family and God. Keep going, sister. Keep hope.

Tall Kay said...

This gave me goosebumps...without hope we have nothing. Rain is filled with hope and we're getting the tail end of it down here. AA is all about hope, and that's why we keep coming back. Very touching post. Big hope-filled hugs!

big Jenn said...

Rain washes away the sadness and the tears.I hope joy fills your heart today.jeNN

the walking man said...


1. To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment.
2. Archaic To have confidence; trust.
1. To look forward to with confidence or expectation: We hope that our children will be successful.
2. To expect and desire. See Synonyms at expect.
1. A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.
2. Something that is hoped for or desired: Success is our hope.
3. One that is a source of or reason for hope: the team's only hope for victory.
4. often Hope Christianity The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.
5. Archaic Trust; confidence.

In all of its defined forms HOPE is always considered with confidence. Lose not the confidence that your hope is not in vain and you will find hope fulfilled is faith attained.

faith is power. I have faith in your hope.

Shadow said...

...and rain is the start of new life. it sad reading about so much loss. in life, in hope, in ability, in the belief that they CAN. your post though proves that there's always something worth living for. for yourself and for others. even though it may be impossible to see and a moment in time....

Glynis said...

Cyprus always live in hope of rain. I always live in hope of being published, my daughter not losing another baby, depression not knocking on my door a 3rd time and living anti'd free for another 10yrs.

Keep holding onto hope and strength will do the same, the two will make a path for you to follow. I know as they built me a path, a very good solid one.

Susie Hemingway said...

Rain brings refreshing life not only to the land but also refreshes a trouble mind. It showers the land making all in it's path sparkle and the colours enrich in it's view. Much like your gorgous photo. We have a lot of rain in the UK. I like to believe it brings new hope too. I like the gentle patter of rain on my roof but I love the rain storms that crash and blow maybe because I believe there truly is a greater power producing it all. My Husband takes all his medications in a desire to live and stay with me, and to be able to hear the rain once more. Rain is indeed a form of hope. I pray that everyday you find such hope.