Friday, November 11, 2005


It's raining today in Oregon. Those of you who have been to the Pacific Northwest know how superfluous that statement is. It's rained here 17 of the past 20 days, and as a rule it rains pretty much every day in November. But the rain today got me thinking about one of my favorite metaphors in the Bible: "Clouds without rain."

"Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of a gift never given."
-Proverbs 25:14

"These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead."
-Jude 1:12 (NIV)

I've never lived in an agricultural community. I grew up in the industrial wastelands of the east coast, and I've since moved to a city in the Silicon Forest. I know what the Presidents of the United States mean when they sing, "Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man in a factory downtown."

And so I grew up with no feeling for the metaphor "clouds without rain." Growing up, I might well have said, "It's cloudy, but at least it's not raining."

And then you have Los Angelos. I love the scene in LA Story when Steve Martin tapes his weather forecasts in advance saying, "Sunny and 70 degrees." This is the American dream, isn't it? We don't want rain. We don't even want clouds. We want to live in a world where it's sunny every day.

But a strange thing has happened to me since I moved to Oregon. I love the rain now. It's a comfort to me, like a security blanket. In the summer I miss the rain. I think this is a metaphor for my spiritual life. I always believed in God in some way, but when I was younger I believed in, as C.S. Lewis says, "not so much a Father in heaver as a grandfather in heaven - a senile benevolence who as they say 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves.'" But as I've come to know Christ, I've begun to expect less sunshine and more rain, and I see now that a land without clouds and rain is a desert.

"I know the sound of the ecstatic flute,
But I don't know whose flute it is.
A lamp burns and has neither wick nor oil.
A waterplant blossoms and is not attached to the bottom!
When one flower opens, ordinarily dozens open.
The moon-bird's head is filled with nothing but thoughts of the moon
and when the next rain will come is all the rain-bird thinks of.
Who is it we spend our entire life loving?"

1 comment:

Christopher said...

They told me Saffron Walden would have the same weather as my old home Eugene Oregon. So far its been a little too dry and a lot too windy for that statement to be entirely true, so its good to hear Oregon hasn't changed!