Monday, 7 April 2014
Sensing Lent 29: Rain
Unlike UK weather presenters, the bible consistently portrays rain in a good light (the Flood notwithstanding). Whether it's the early spring or 'latter' autumn rains, rain is a sign of divine blessing, on crops and on people. The early rains would prepare the ground for the planting of crops and the latter rains would ripen the crops before harvest.
Rain as blessing has given rise to all sorts of theories about 'latter rain', as we are supposedly in the 'latter days' now, according to bible chronology ('last' days - literally, between the resurrection and the Second Coming of Christ). Is God sending some sort of latter rain on the church to prepare her for the Second Coming, as some Pentecostalists say? There's certainly been an increase in interest in the third person of the Trinity since the charismatic movement took off in the 1970s, along with a plethora of wacky theologies about different types of Holy Spirit blessing (aka latter rain theologies).
Rain also carries literary freight. Novelists and film makers employ the wonderfully named 'pathetic fallacy' whereby human emotions are attributed to nature. So a relationship begins to break down, someone's lover leaves, the grey clouds gather and it begins to rain. After he's destroyed his closest relationships, King Lear sits on the blasted heath. On the night that John Jasper sets out to murder Edwin Drood in Dicken's unfinished novel, a storm gathers, rain lashes the window casings. People have commented that when someone you love dies, and it rains, it almost feels as though nature is weeping with you. Not possible of course, but hard to get away from.
Though I don't much like getting wet, I like watching raindrops running down glass and listening to the sound of rain at night.
When we spend so much time rushing about and worrying and controlling, and thinking everything we do is of vast importance, the sound of rain gives a sense of perspective about our smallness in the universe. Much of what we do will be undone, as Shakespeare knew: 'The rain it raineth every day'.*
Which could be a depressing thought, were it not actually true.
*ending of Twelfth Night.