The rains came this weekend, washing clean the dust of the summer, the soot from the wildfires and any remaining fear of new fires being kindled. In Northern California, the rainy season starts almost like clockwork on or around Halloween.
I find that so amazing…almost miraculous. In the almost seven years I’ve lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains, nature has never failed to change the season just as the kids put on their costumes. I’m not joking. This year represents the first year that the rain began in October. We had one rain about two weeks ago, and then nothing but 85 degree weather and sun. On Thursday October 30th, just a day before Halloween, the sky became cloudy and the drops began to fall. They fell all day and into Friday, stopping only long enough for the youngest trick or treaters to get some good trick or treating in. The older ones mostly got rained out when the storm picked up later in the evening. And it continued to rain and to blow and to storm all the way through Saturday night. The weather cleared on Sunday, then a new storm began on Monday. yes, the rainy season had officially arrived.
In a world where everything seems so unpredictable, so left to chance, how come the rainy season remains something we can count on? This seems especially odd given that nature remains one of the most unpredictable elements in life. I don’t have the answer.
I only know that in an area of the country where fires become all the more prevalent the longer we are without rain, the huge drops seemed like a Godsend. And I was supremely grateful. Since my property has a well that often runs short on water in the summer, I was glad to know that the ground water supply would begin to be replenished, ensuring an abundance of water, and I was happy to have my gardens watered well for the first time in months. I imagined the plants’ dry roots soaking up the moisture and their brittle branches slowly coming back to life. I know that in some cases, the plants have gone too long without the sustenance they needed; they will not recover. In other cases, the water comes in the nick of time; some withered branches will die, but the rest of the plant will gather its strength and begin once again to grow. And for other plants that are drought resistant, the water will be welcomed but not necessarily necessary. They have flourished despite the lack of water they received.
I wish my life was like a drought resistant plant, able to withstand neglect and lack of nurturance. It’s is not. I wish, the parts that seem to be dying or damaged, because I or someone else has not bothered to care for them, could be brought back to life with just some just-in-time watering. However, it’s not so easy to restore those withering parts of my lie; I’m afraid they might be too far gone, past the point of recovery.
Unfortunately, our lives can’t wait for a rainy season. Our lives – and our selves – need constant care and watering. We need to be fertilized and pruned. We can’t leave this to chance.
I feel like I’ve been through a very long drought, longer than the typical May to November dry season in Northern California. I suppose our lives go through seasons, too. Right now, I’m parched, dry and withered. I’m in need of water. I’m hungry for sustenance.
My life needs a rainy season, but I can’t rely on the rains to start on time or on their own. It doesn’t seem to work that way when it comes to my life. It seems I have to do a rain dance, make the rains fall if I am to receive water. No miracles here, only in nature. I have to do the work of watering, make the time to care for my garden, or else I’ll wither, dry up, and die. My life will be over.
I only need to look at my neglected garden, which has suffered not only from lack of water but also from lack of care, to see symbolism. It resembles my life. Just as I’ve had not time to care for my garden, I’ve had no time to care for my life. I’ve made not time. I’ve not watered, fertilized, weeded, or pruned my life. And now I’m left with withered and dying branches, blooms dropping petals or needed to be “dead headed.”
Yes, it’s time for me to do a rain dance, or, better yet, rather than waiting to see if the dance brings the rain I need, to simply begin gardening again. My garden, and my life, will not be beautiful and alive and thriving again unless I do something to make it so. I can wait for a Divine act of grace, I suppose. If God decides to grace me with rain, I will be nurtured and brought back to life. Just like the rainy season ending the drought brought on by the dry season, the first rain seems like God’s hand turning on a heavenly sprinkler. It’s an act of grace. But I might have to suffer a longer drought if I simply wait for this, no matter how much trust I have in God. It might be better to pick up the hose, the shovel, the clippers and simply begin. Almost like clockwork, if I water the garden, the clouds will form and the rains will come…I know. It’s happened before. If I begin, God joins in. That’s almost as predictable as the start of the rainy season.