My husband and I sat outside reading. The sky was slowly darkening and the air was quiet and still. The bugs were more annoying, as they get before the rain. The forecast said no rain for a few more hours, but that seemed contrary to everything I was observing. The air got the slightest edge of a chill and then, with no warning, big fat drops started falling on us. We gave each other big eyes and smiles at the same moment and leapt up, gathering our books and coffee, and hustled inside.
The afternoon remained gray, softly sprinkling on and off. The smooth, steady sort of spring shower that makes you close your eyes and breathe deeply, the air so fresh and clean you can practically taste the newness it brings.
We sat on the couch inside, still reading, and each time the rain would die down and then start up again, we both wordlessly gazed outside, entranced, breathing deeply and slowly, gently gulping the air that makes us feel a sense of rest and peace that we are slowly finding again.
And with each new opening of the clouds, and steady, pattering shower, my eyes slowly fill with wetness too.
God nourishes the earth in such a steady, beautiful way. Provision in the form of cool drops outside of anyone’s schedule, quenching the thirst of the earth below. I watch it and I am filled with awe.
Aside from the seemingly infinite patience and love from my husband, I haven’t felt in awe about much in the world for awhile.
In Cairo we couldn’t see the stars for the smog. Though it did rain a handful of times in winter, the sky was rarely blue. There were people suffering. Hungry and poor. Persecution, church bombings, refugees fleeing situations and enduring injustice I could not even fathom.
Also, because of pollution, we literally could not see the stars for the smog. There is much to be disillusioned by, as most can attest. How could humans watch rain fall and water the earth and yet make bombs that fall and destroy that same earth and the people on it?
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, above the smog, still exist sweeping, open skies, over, above, and all around the smog.
I’d nearly forgotten that truth. Mercifully I am being reminded that we are not all doomed to smog. It is not the final word. Open skies still abound.
And I am left in awe.
In many ways, I desire to live a quiet life. I want to see the stars every night. I want to slow down when it rains so I can always receive it with reverence and gratefulness. I want the air I breathe to always be the clean, crisp variety. I want to live outside of the smog.
And yet, the smog is where so much of what I long for is. I want to fight against injustice, stand up for the voiceless, help the hurting, and advocate for fair policies.
Sitting and looking at the stars is not wrong. It is right and good and necessary. Awe is important in relationship with God. But so is being where the world hurts. And the world seems to do a lot of its hurting in the smog.
I don’t know how to balance it. I am sick and we are back in the US because I have not been good at that balance. While I have not evened out yet, it feels so good to be out of the smog. To remember that the smog has not yet blanketed the earth. The night sky is still there. The clouds can still open and spill newness. There is time and opportunity to sit and watch the rain again.
There are people committing big evils and inflicting giant hurts. But that is not the whole truth. The smog remains. But the rain still falls. The smog cannot stop God from watering the earth.
We will emotionally, and physically too, soon enough, re-enter the smog. I don’t know how I could defend a life just thinking about the rain and the stars because I have the privilege, means, and ability to, where people who have less of those things are choking on poisoned air.
If pollution is allowed to continue unchecked, eventually we all will breathe in polluted air. Because we share an atmosphere, smog eventually get in all our lungs. If evil is allowed to persist among some, it eventually touches us all. Maybe we will even forget the open skies remain and still water down on us, nourishing us, sometimes even through the smog.
I gulp in the air—the scent of earth being watered from the sky—praising him for stars, and rain showers, and for open skies, whether I can see them or not, and that the rain makes its way down on us, even through the smog.