Rain

If the rain comes
They run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead
If the rain comes
If the rain comes

From “Rain,” by The Beatles

“Truly I say to you, except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

– Matthew 18:3

To my delight, when I awoke this morning, I discovered a peaceful, drizzling rain.  The precipitation was light, so I couldn’t hear the raindrops sprinkling on the roof as I lay in bed, but when I looked out the window, the rain was dancing in the swimming pool and on the concrete patio in back of my home. Later, when I walked outside to get the newspaper, the air was crisp, fresh and cool. To me, nothing smells quite as good as the refreshing aroma after a rain.

A kaleidoscope of thoughts crossed my mind that day, but the first was how rain nurtures the land.  Back in my childhood, my family lived on a forty-acre farm near Dickson, Oklahoma, and much later my father leased farmland south of Oklahoma City, where he cultivated wheat, cotton, soybeans and grain sorghum, none of which was irrigated.  When Dad was a youngster growing up in Davidson, his family’s crops were likewise completely dependent on precipitation. Given that droughts in Oklahoma occur more than occasionally, I still recall the look of relief on his face when we had a pleasant, soaking rain, and almost overnight his cultivated fields turned from a dull, brownish-green to verdant hues sparkling with life.  To Oklahoma farmers, rain was truly manna from heaven, absolutely critical for sustenance and survival.  Besides that, to older generations, the lack of rain would doubtless bring up visceral, unpleasant recollections of the misery of the Dust Bowl.

Rain also brings up fond memories of when I was a child.  As long as there was no associated lightning, my mother allowed me, my brother Jim and sister Connie, to put on our bathing suits and frolic outside in the rain.  Oftentimes, we were joined by our neighborhood chums and any others who dared hang around with a wild, playful group of kids.  The more torrential the rain was, the better, as when the streets flooded, we could wade, giggling and laughing, into the deep water and splash each other to our hearts’ content.

As I grew older and more dignified, I gradually shunned such childish activities, and when the rains came, like The Beatles described above, I would ensconce myself into dry and cozy surroundings, and if I was required to venture outside, I would cover up as much as possible. After all, if I became cold and wet, couldn’t I get sick?  Become deathly ill with pneumonia?  Staying shielded from the elements was safe and secure, and was the mature, adult way to behave.

With time, though, I have slowly regressed back to some of my childhood ways.  For example, as my work as an emergency physician can be onerous, painful, and sometimes overwhelming, to lighten my emotional load I have developed a somewhat childish, cornball sense of humor, one that my fellow healthcare workers have gradually come to tolerate and on occasion, even embrace.  When the rain comes, though, there are no holds barred, and my adult completely disappears as my spontaneous inner child becomes unleashed. If it’s warm enough, I put on my bathing suit, go outside by the pool and gleefully laugh as I feel this miraculous gift from God cleansing and purifying me from top to bottom. I joyfully re-enter the magical world of my childhood, one where I was deeply loved by my parents and community of friends, and my universe was effervescent, innocent, and pure.

While there are times when I am still required to be a responsible adult, fortunately moments occur when I can be a carefree, happy boy. While both are important, I prefer the latter. After all, Jesus said I must be as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven.

All in all, I believe I’m making progress.

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