Last Thursday, I pulled out the hoses once again, trudging across several football fields worth of ground to complete a task I've undertaken since February, one that is monotonous, strenuous, and frustrating when death still comes overnight to the plants and trees I've tried to maintain.
This time, though, my task was different. The usual 5:00 blazing red sun was missing overhead. During the children's nap time, the ceiling had been painted a marbled gray while a burst of cooler air had moved in to replace the heavy heat we had endured just that morning.
To the west, dark clouds were gathering. More were forming to the north and east, loud claps of thunder surrounding me. Surely today it would rain. Surely today, our prayers would be answered.
To stack up my prayers, my children's prayers for rain would be no small task. In a drought the likes of which our State has not seen in over 120 years, this prayer has consumed my family, words passing through our lips repeatedly, sometimes unconsciously, from the breakfast table to the bedside, every day.
By last week, husband and I were looking at the forecast, both of us saying it was just a matter of time before God responded with a "yes." We even joked (if joking can be serious) that with all those prayers for rain piling up before the throne, when God finally answered and poured them back on us, it might just be a bigger response than we expected, like in the form of a tropical depression or a hurricane.
With the premature darkness encroaching, the thunder increasing in strength and frequency as it sounded in every direction around our house, I thought this was the big one we had spoken of. But still, I stood, watering the sod, the trees.
I wanted to be standing out in the middle with no roof overhead when the water started coming down from heaven. I wanted to raise my face to breathe in the aroma of life-giving drops from the Life-giver, to feel the touch of His blessings wash over me, to experience with all my senses the answer to my prayers.
With ears plugged full of praise music, hands and flowing water occasionally lifting to the sky as I felt in my spirit the words, I sang praises to the one enthroned on high.
A few drops fell on my skin, and I gave thanks, asking for more but telling Him I would praise Him even if He didn't send the rain today. As if in response, the winds picked up speed, whipping through my curls and bending the tree tops, littering the dry earth with verdant leaves.
The two dozen purple martins roosting at my mother-in-law's house soared stiff-winged on the strong currents over the barns. A circle of the birds spiraled upwards in a column surrounding an invisible center. Others crossed overhead, swooping, gliding, jubilant.
And then the rushing winds began to subside. The individual drops stopped falling. The hammering crash of cymbals turned into the far away rumble of a bass drum.
While I stood in the cleft of the rock, God had passed me by.
We watered the grass and trees again on Thursday, then Saturday. Sunday night, then Monday, the storms rushed through again, rain falling in sheets upon our neighbors. My mother called to say an inch fell at her house, fifteen minutes away. Even the highway less than two minutes away from us was soaked.
But here? The drought continued. No. Rain.
Then came Tuesday. And Wednesday. And today.
Three straight days of cooling, precious rain. Life-giving water to us who are so thirsty.
There are so many other ways that God is working in my life this week, but how can I not write of this?
How can I not stop and praise my God who has blessed us with a drought so severe that it has saved much of our State from the flood waters that came down the Mississippi only to be swallowed by the waiting, parched ground? How can I not stop and praise the One who has blessed us now with long-awaited rain?
He is the God of drought and rain. In famine and in harvest--He listens, He speaks, He shows His love.
Photos: Husband roofs the red barn after the rain against a backdrop of fleeting gray skies.
Oldest son tries to "save" tadpoles from an almost dried-out mud hole.