It did not rain last night, for the first time since we came here. What a difference sunshine makes to the day in prospect! Even the thought of a number of tiresome jobs cannot put down the little bubble of enthusiasm that rises to the surface when the sun is shining. It is ironic that this change in the weather, short-lived though it may prove to be, should have co-incided with the feast of St John the Baptist and the turn of the year, when the days begin to grow shorter. It is as if God is reminding us that his light is always there and will shine for us when he chooses. We grumble about the weather or make jokes about the drought, but I like to think that this morning there is a huge smile on the face of God. He has surprised us yet again.
Jokes about the drought are frequent. Ever since it was declared, it seems, we have had nothing but rain. April was the wettest on record for a century; it was followed by an unusually wet May. Even now the skies pour down; so why not celebrate rain and sing its praises?
It is a grey morning here in Herefordshire, but the raindrops skittering down the window panes are more brilliant than the Queen’s ‘river pageant dress’ as they trace their delicate patterns of silver and crystal down the glass. Step outside, and the rain feels warm and fresh on one’s face. The earth is soaking up the rain, with grass and trees bending under its weight. From the undergrowth comes the unmistakable smell of wet earth and lush vegetation. One can almost hear the grass growing at one’s feet. Everything is vibrant with life.
In the Bible rain is always seen as a precious gift, giving life and freshness to the earth. As befits a nation of desert-dwellers, the Israelites celebrated rain as a blessing, to be longed for in time of drought, praised as spring rain and autumn rain, gloried in as a sign of God’s gift of fertility and growth. Like them, we pray for the heavens to rain down the Just One, liken the action of the Word of God to the rain doing its work on the earth, acknowledge Christ to be Lord of sky and storm.
We are glad of the rain, for two dry winters have reminded us that it is not a gift to be taken for granted. As we sing in the Canticle of Daniel, ‘springs and showers, bless the Lord’; and as Fr Baker reminds us in Sancta Sophia, we are called to ‘praise the Lord amidst the noise of the water-spouts’. A cheering thought as we raise our ‘brollies yet again.