Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wondrous Wetness

We had just arrived at the small fair in the tiny community of Utica - slap-dab in the middle of Montana - when it began. All morning we’d driven beneath cloudy skies, surrounded by miles of harvested grain fields in every direction. It was no surprise when large drops began to fall; what did surprise me was the reaction of the people who scurried frantically around donning rain bonnets and yellow slickers, popping open a few umbrellas.

It wasn’t that the rain was unwelcome; this region of the country had been suffering the 3rd cycle of drought since the dust bowl days of the 1930s. I could see the heavy, black clouds on the horizon, feel the wind pick up and remembered what these high prairie storms could be like. Still, a realization hit me as strongly as the wet gusts - I’d grown used to rain. So used to it in fact, that I rarely bundled up against it or altered activities because of it.

Before moving to western Washington, we’d always lived in dry climates. That rainy morning in Utica brought back a flood of memories. The sweet smell of rain against dry grasses and dust carried me back to hot, dry, summers and bright, crisp falls where rain was a rare occurrence.

Dark, brooding clouds and sudden, heavy winds usually came first and often moved through without a drop of rain. We, too, would dash about to secure or bring inside whatever might be harmed. When the rain did come, it poured, accompanied by deafening cracks of thunder and brilliant lightening flashes. Tucked away safely inside, we’d shout to be heard over the din and avoid touching anything metal until the storm was over.

Afterwards, there’d be standing puddles and miniature streams running along the street curbs. Children would wade and splash, floating small chunks of wood from one corner to the next, pretending they were boats. Adults would relax a little if no hail had fallen. Gardens would not need to be watered and farmers would be happy - for hail could ruin both.

Water has been here since the beginning. It helps to shape the land and determine what plants and animals live in any given place.

Although around 75% of the earth is covered with water, only about 3% of that is fresh. Over half of this fresh water is tied up in ice caps and glaciers, and much of the rain that falls seeps into streams and rivers.

These flow into the ocean and ultimately evaporate to return to the clouds. The small amount of water used by living things is recycled through respiration and wastes.

Imagine where the water - that you and I bathe in, brush our teeth with, and drink - has been before it got to us! And where will it go after it leaves our bodies? Since we are made up of 80% water, it is a vital part of us and we must have it to survive. It is a precious and finite gift.

Living here, rain becomes a part of everyday life. It is often the gentle, misting kind that goes on and on, day after day, sometimes month after month. We may complain about it or simply accept it and easily take for granted. We should not.

As this rainy season sets in, here in our little corner of the world, carefully consider the value of this wondrous wetness. Watch it fall from the sky, listen for its patter, inhale the musky fragrance as it seeps into the earth. Walk in it - let it dampen your hair, skin, and clothes - until it seeps into your very soul. We are indeed fortunate to have it - many others are not so lucky.

...’I will sprinkle clean water on you,
and you will be clean;...’
Ezekiel 36:25

He said to me: “It is done.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
 the Beginning and the End.
To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost
  from the spring of the water of life.
Revelation 21:6

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