LESSONS FROM THE RAIN
I struggle with the cold. I really do – and since arriving in Europe it’s been cold with a capital C! Cold with sun is doable, but when it’s cold and rainy and you can’t be inside, I tend to not be a particularly joyful person.
I was praying for joy in the rain this past week, although to be honest I didn’t think such a thing was possible. I would settle for long suffering endurance with only a few moans a day.
Then as I was walking (not particularly patiently) in the rain a few days ago I had a sudden realization of how verdant the grass was. It was so, so green – something which would not be possible without the rain. And I grudgingly agreed to myself that perhaps the trade off was worth it: rain for green grass. Without water, as we know in Australia so well, there is no life, no regrowth, no refreshment and renewal.
I was also reminded about something my Aunty said after my cousin died. She said that the rain had become to her a sign of rebirth. Because it is only when a seed is planted and watered that it can grow. And God does not plant seeds and neglect to water them. There are no meaningless deaths under His mighty hand. Rather, every death brings purposeful life. Every seed is watered. Every rainfall heralds a resurrection.
Hope comes again. God’s promise to Noah in the negative is “it will not flood again” – but the positive expression is, “the sun will come again”. Joy and warmth will return; the rain does not come in vain.
So now as I walk down one of the many dirt paths, shoulders hunched and fingers clenched against the rain, I try and remember these two things. Rain brings resurrection; the sun will come again.
There have been difficult times in my travels, like in life. A moth eating through 50% of my t-shirts/long sleeves and scattering them with holes (thankyou Amelia for putting up with my complaints).
Getting fined 60 euros because no one told me to validate my train ticket and having the conductor tell me “that’s your problem, not mine”.
Returning to my room to find my locked bag busted open and my posessions scattered around (but nothing taken).
Spraining my ankle and still being unable to sit cross legged for very long (we sit on the floor in church). Catching the cold that’s flying around Taize (but not corona!). Being up all night because the food didn’t agree with me.
And yet, the sun comes out again. Joy returns. There is always hope – just like the rain will end, so will present troubles.
There were times in the past year where I couldn’t imagine they ever would. Where I felt like it would rain forever. It’s true that there are some storms that we are called to walk through our whole lives long. But perhaps even then, joy can return. The sun can burst through the clouds.
And in the meantime we walk through the rain in hope. Hope for new life, hope for resurrection. Hope because no life is meaningless and no seed is planted that will not be watered. And one day, the sun will shine again.
Because each season of life for me is flavoured, shaped and adjusted by the books I’m reading at the time, I’m currently enjoying:
Thomas`a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ
Martin Luther’s Tabletalk (selections from)
Laurie R. King’s Locked Rooms (reread)
LIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONA VIRUS
This is a last minute addition to the post because the situation in France is changing by the hour. First 1k ppl are allowed to meet, then 500, then 100, and now, from 6pm last night, no one. All non essential shops are closed, all schools and unis.
Taize itself has closed, which means we’re not welcoming any participants, and have become a closed community until at least April 19.
Volunteers from countried which have recalled its citizens and closed their borders are leaving to get home before that happens, so life’s a bit crazy and a bit unsettling at the moment here.
Still, there is nothing to do but wait and pray. I am unaffected, but praying for peace for those who have to weigh up choices and make time pressured decisions. It’s also sad having to say so many goodbyes!
Community life will also be changing. The 3x daily official prayers are cancelled and we will all have to figure out a new rhythm of work and prayer.