Throughout July and August in South Texas, it only takes a few days for the soil to dry out and vegetation to transition from green to brown. Adequate irrigation is essential for farmers as well as those hoping to keep their lawns green and their flowers blooming. The unrelenting sun, coupled with triple digit heat, keeps the ground in a constant state of drying out.
One day last week, I waited too late to hit the bike trail. By the time I got out there, the temperature was already in the mid-90s and climbing by the hour. The heat index seemed unsustainable. Barometric pressure, lack of breeze, and humidity were such that it seemed the air was particularly think and heavy … it seemed just too hot to remain at this level. These periodic oppressive conditions make it noticeably more difficult to even draw a breath of air, even for perfectly healthy lungs. This temporary weather happens here occasionally; it seems that everything has reached a breaking point and relief surely must be on the way. We think to ourselves that something surely has to give. The grass around the trail was brown and appeared brittle. The soil was dusty, powder-like, and easily airborne. It was a relief to arrive back at the trailhead, load up my bike, and drive away in lovely air conditioning. After the AC had comfortably cooled the interior of my SUV, I noticed the outside temperature: 102.
Later that afternoon, almost on cue, something did indeed give. Around 7pm, into the evening and on into the wee hours of the morning, thunderstorms moved in and provided a brief downpour and then a steady drizzle which resembled mist. All in all, only an inch of rain was registered, and in nearby areas, less than that.
Early the next morning just after sun-up, I was back out on the bike trail. The clouds had cleared away. Since yesterday’s trek had been cut short by the miserable heat index, I hoped to make up for lost time on the following morning’s ride. Back out on the trail, I was astonished by the short overnight transition and the beauty of the refreshed scenery.
The morning air was cool and brisk. Everything on the trail had miraculously turned from brown to green in only a few hours. The ride was nothing short of spectacular, to the point that I didn’t want it to end.
Mankind can irrigate and water all day long everyday, but nothing provides the soil and plant life what it needs like a passing little rainstorm at just the right time. Showers of blessings from on high provide essential nutrients for the soil far richer and more powerful than anything we can rig up and enact.
This pandemic season feels a lot like an endless spell of dry, oxygen-deprived heat. Much we have worked for years or even decades to produce in the arts and in ministry seems to be withering and languishing before our eyes. It’s easy to become discouraged and to despair when the landscape is observed from a mere human viewpoint.
May we be regularly reminded that this too shall pass, that healing and restoration and recovery can begin now when we turn our eyes in a Godward direction. The meantime of waiting for recovery can be spent refocusing our eyes upon Jesus, looking full into the face of the Savior, and redirecting our actions and attitudes in ways that best reflect the love of God.
Yes, we need the cooling, nourishing, refreshing, life-giving rain of blessings to bring us new life, even as we work together to eradicate this stubborn, unforgiving pandemic. To a large degree, the answer to our restoration will come as we seek God with all our hearts and sincerely ask the question: What, O God, do you want me to learn? How do you want to change me? How can I become a better reflector of your love, compassion, forgiveness, peace, light, life, and joy?
With Francis of Assisi, we can all pray: Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.