Saturday, September 15, 2012
How Do You Know It's Raining?
Sometimes I look at my life as a continuum, like gently drifting down a river. When a major change (like retirement and caring for my mom) occurs, it’s like turning into a different channel of the river, and I notice the difference --- like the current is faster or the shoreline scenery is different, or perhaps more subtly, the sunlight is at a different angle. These big changes I notice and react to, but my life also has many smaller, yet no less important changes --- and sometimes they pass by unnoticed to me.
But my body instinctively notices, and it reacts.
I glanced at my hanging planter on the deck yesterday. All the flowers had turned downward. It almost looked as if it were sad. It was raining on and off that day and the flowers closed slightly, and pointed down. How did the plant know it was raining? The day before, the humidity was equally high, and as I slowly watered the plant its flowers remained pointed up toward the sky, seemingly happy to accept a drink from me. But on the rainy day the flowers pointed down. How did the plant know it was raining, and react appropriately?
Well, obviously the plant has no brain, so it did not think about the matter, yet still it reacted. And in that natural way, going with the flow, I think sometimes we too react to rain in our lives --- without thinking about it; it’s something for God to take care of. So often when things get dark we fret and worry, yet how often do dark things happen that we are not even aware about? Did we miss something to worry about, or when we DO notice are we often worrying needlessly? Does our life sometimes slowly get dry over time, like the plant, and when healing rains come do we just soak them up, refreshed --- except when we notice them, so we can worry?
I’ve been thinking about how many of us are so ego-centric, worrying about things almost exclusively in terms of what they mean to us, and our not being concerned about others nearly as much as we might wish we were. Love of neighbor is much more difficult than love of self. Maybe that’s why the second great commandment of Jesus, love neighbor as self, just assumes that we love ourselves. And as we drift along the stream of our life, if we notice changes to others around us, to our country, to our church, or to our families and friends, it is usually in terms of how those changes impact us. Our country is going broke --- will I have enough money? Our Church preaches about killing babies or marriages disintegrating --- does that impact me? Our friends and neighbors lost their job --- too bad for them.
In taking control of our life, in being worried about what happens to US, I think we believe that we are insulated from events around us, like they’re on the shore and not in our river, and can happen to someone else but not to us ---- because we are taking actions to protect ourselves, or steer away from troubling events. But in trying to control our lives, we have stopped some of what used to be natural reactions to events. I think the plant I pictured above may have an advantage over us in some ways --- it can’t think, and sometimes we think too much. Certainly if it is raining we should put up an umbrella or move to another place, but I think sometimes we, like the plant, should just put our heads down and let it happen. “Into each life a little rain must fall;” it’s a natural thing.
If it indeed is raining, and if we simply MUST think about it, then we need to acknowledge that sometimes rain is a good thing, and just let it happen without our worries.
We do need to do what we can to help our country, our Church, and our family and friends, but we also need faith: Faith that God permits the rain or what we perceive as bad times, because sometimes they are good thing for us. We need Faith that He can make good out of even the worst, and Faith that He cares for us, and we don’t have to worry so much to about caring for ourselves.
We need Faith that God is in control of those things we cannot control, and that despite how stormy the weather is today, there will come a tomorrow when we will lift our faces to God’s light, and give praise.
And if we have a right attitude, one in which we do not think that we are all important, these things will just happen naturally.
Even in these times which appear endlessly dark, we need faith that light will come again. He promised it.
Do not be anxious.