After a week of glorious sunshine, my part of the Midwest is being deluged by rain again this morning. I sit at my desk at work, gulping my hazelnut coffee and watching the water pour from the heavens. Everyone who walks past my office comes in grumbling about the rain. “When will it stop?” “Isn’t the grass already green enough?” “Rain, rain, go away, come again some night when I’m sleeping.”
I don’t complain about the rain. I don’t love it all the time, but I am careful with my words. As the daughter-in-law of a retired farmer, I know the value of rain. I watched my then-future father-in-law during the drought of ’88. We had not a drop of rain for months. I watched this man’s spirit become as dessicated and brittle as the fields that barely yielded corn and soybeans.
“You can always grow something in a swamp,” he said. “But you can’t grow anything in a desert.”
The moment I realized my marriage might be in trouble was when I realized that many times, it was no longer raining. Instead of pouring down pain and heartache and refusal and everything else that was going on in both our hearts, I was starting to see moments that were a desert–an absence of investment, an absence of caring, a drying up of even the negative passion that sometimes lived between us. It is hard to live with a hurting heart. It is hard to live with someone who is unhappy with you. But as long as the other person is unhappy, it means that the person still cares. It is when apathy comes that the desert has taken root.
You can always grow something in a swamp, and sometimes, our marriage had certainly felt pretty swampy. But when I began to see the desert encroach, I knew that we were in danger. You can’t grow anything in a desert.
So I don’t complain about the rain. And in ’89, the summer after the drought, I stood with the man who raised the man I would marry and watched a glorious thunderstorm roll in across the plains from the west. We stood together and soaked in the rain, letting it flood our spirits and our shoes. Only the lightning was enough to send us indoors.
And this morning, looking out my window, I rejoice that we are sent so much life-giving water to wash us clean and allow us to continue growing. And maybe tonight, when I get home, I’ll ask my husband to go on a walk in the rain with me.