Recently I was lamenting the long wet spell of rainy weather we’ve had here in Western Washington and wishing for some sunny days to balance things out a bit. Yes, I know that complaining about rain in Olympia is a bit like complaining about snow in Anchorage or summer heat in Phoenix. The complaints are rather pointless. Putting up with the rain is the cost of living here. On the bright side, it’s green!
As my colleagues and I reflected on the wet weather that day we realized that there are some places that are watery. And some of those places are literally watery and some of them are metaphorically watery. Birth is one of the first watery places we experience. We emerge from the warm watery womb into a world where some stranger dries us off and slaps our bottom until we cry… and breathe.
Tears are a watery place, too. Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. It doesn’t matter. Our emotions are so often manifested in wetness, whether it be a stoically macho guy hiding a few tears in a darkened theater, or the tears openly wept at a memorial service, or the child’s tears that flow after the owie until someone “kisses it and makes it better.” My mother would sometimes cry, and I would ask her, “Mama, why are you crying. “I don’t know… sometimes the tears just come.” I didn’t understand that as a child, but now I do. In my adulthood, I sometimes find myself weeping with joy and weeping with sadness, weeping with gratitude and weeping with loneliness, weeping in frustration and weeping in expectation. When we embrace our emotions, we often experience tears as a watery place response to both good and bad in our life.
Baptism is another watery place, of course. A few weeks ago, when we celebrated the baptism of Jesus and the folks sitting near the front of the church got sprinkled as we intoned the words together, “Remember your baptism and be thankful,” it was a powerful reminder that faith is watery place, a place of birth and rebirth as we go down in the water to drown the past, and rise up again, dripping, to greet the future.
Last night’s weather forecast called for “sun breaks” this week. That will be nice for a change. But remembering the many ways that God is experienced in the watery places of our lives, I am resolved to not complain quite so much in those times between the sun breaks, but rather to celerbate the rainy day watery places as signs that God is always very near.