The past few days were beautiful. The air was cool and breezy, the threat of storms hovered around the Valley of the Sun with gray skies overhead. While this may be a common occurrence in most parts of the country, it can be very rare in the southwest until Monsoon season arrives. Sitting out on the patio and watching the drops of water fall to the ground was mesmerizing, like sitting in a spa listening to the soft trickle of a fountain in the background.
A monsoon storm has a wide range of intensity as evidenced by the past few days of calm and drizzly weather here in the west side of the Phoenix Valley. During the same time, the east Valley had wild and raging storms that dumped so much rain that the ground couldn’t absorb it and people were instantly trapped in their cars as swift rivers of water magically appeared from where the parched ground was a few minutes before. Within hours, the world returned to normal as if the storm was a figment of their imagination with proof of it already evaporated.
If you live in the parched desert conditions in Phoenix, it is far more common to have a pool in your backyard than most states. After all, how can you survive 118 degree weather in the summer without having a “swimmin” hole to jump into. Trying to get people to enjoy a pool is quite an effort. There is the body image issue that we all have to get used to, as if anyone in our age group has a sleek and stellar body. Trying to convince my 85 year old folks to come for over for a swim took a steak and lobster dinner and the promise that we would wait until it was completely black outside, no light for anyone to see their swimsuit clad bodies.
The result of that night and others that followed was amazing. Once they slowly climbed into the water, they reclined on their rafts, floated around the pool bathed in small stars of brilliant light from the laser lights, the waterfall gently pouring water over rocks and music playing in the background. My mom commented that she hadn’t been in a pool in almost 50 years and couldn’t even remember how long it had been since she looked up at the stars in the dark night sky. My stepdad quietly floated around saying he could not remember feeling that relaxed and comfortable in years and years, body images forgotten about during that magical night. It was the sound of the water on the rocks and the gentle breeze pushing him through the water as the changing colors mesmerized him.
Ancient philosophers believed that earth, air, fire and water were the four fundamental elements of life. As scientists began to explore further, there were chemical explanations for everything that removed the magical essence of these crucial parts of life. Yet I believe that the ancient believers truly captured the vital importance of water to all life on earth. These four elements are magical gifts we have been given by God and water is the most mesmerizing and necessary substance in our lives.
97% of the water on earth is in the oceans and is unable to be used to grow much of anything. The remaining 3% is trapped is icecaps, glaciers and rivers so our entire earth is dependent on the rain that falls from the storm clouds that drift slowly in a continual circle around the earth to replenish it. The rain brings cooling nourishment to our bodies, bringing forth new life on earth and washing the dirt and grit built up along the way. It has the ability to put out the summer forest fires and cover the mountains with snowy wonderlands in the winter months. Without rain, we would cease to exist. Our very lives are dependent on this simple and free magical element.
Many of us take cover during the wild and raging spring and fall storms in the midwest and along the east coast that can flood neighborhoods within minutes. Some of us dread the blinding icy snowstorms that cover the northern and eastern states, along with the mountains regions scattered across the U.S. Yet snow lovers of varying levels of abilities, spend the night in their cars in anticipation of opening day at the ski resorts. They love every moment of the bitter, almost painful temperatures ignored to fly down the snow packed hills, swishing and swooshing on their incredibly expensive equipment during a very short and magical winter wonderland season. Those of us living in the southwest anxiously await the very needed moisture from the monsoons that can ravage the area in the summer months. Some of us stand out in the gentle soft rain in one neighborhood while just a few miles away, others are caught unawares in their cars within minutes.
The magic of this mesmerizing element can transform lives in tiny special moments. It can make us feel young and carefree while floating in a pool. A day can drift by in a small fishing boat or a huge cruise ship, just watching and listening to the waves lapping up on the sides. It can delight a young child when the water freezes into sparkling crystals of snow, tickling their nose and melting on their tongues. The greatest miracle of water is how it can heal our souls. It can wash away our pain and suffering through the miracle of baptism. Our belief in Jesus Christ along with the immersion into water is symbolic of washing away our sins and making ourselves new in the eyes of God.
Take the time to sit outside in a gentle rain and close your eyes, listening to the rain drops softly fall. Breathe deeply and smell the freshness that rain brings to our spirits. Remember what it felt like to be a child dancing around in the raindrops, tasting the fresh drops of moisture on your tongue.
Thank God for the miracle of the rain.