The other night it rained and I felt this sudden urge to go outside, into the backyard, and lay naked on a lounge chair. I’m sort of strange like that. I mention my nudity only because it would have been quite silly if I had laid outdoors during a rainstorm fully clothed. I’m not totally insane. My wife and I have only experienced about a dozen steady rains in Peoria, since moving here over seven years ago. We live in the desert for goodness’ sake, so we really shouldn’t be too surprised by the lack of rainfall. Raindrops are so scarce in Arizona, that many residents flock to their covered patios to witness the oddity when it happens. I’m not one of those people. At least not yet.
I had my fill of rain while living in Iowa, for the majority of my life. Many times tornados, hail, or flooding accompanied the rain, so there wasn’t much to like about that kind of weather. I think what irritated me the most though were the incessant discussions, about the rain, which lasted all spring and summer long. The tiresome conversations about whether there was too much rain, or not enough rain, for the local farmers’ crops were almost too much to bare. I can’t remember a time, as a Newton citizen, when the amount of rain was “just right.” Now, many years later I unexpectedly had found myself not only wanting to be a spectator but actually longing to be amongst the rainfall. My lovely wife wasn’t interested in joining me (she’s mostly sane), so I experienced the rarity of the condition on my own.
In the beginning the large raindrops were cold and a bit maddening. There was definitely an initial shock to my body, but then I remembered a relevant line from the movie First Blood. The classic film also happens to be what was playing at the drive-in when my wife and I went on our first date on June 3rd, 1983. In the classic film, Col. Samuel Trautman is describing his protégé, John J. Rambo, to an egotistical, small-town sheriff who is trying to capture the former Green Beret. The Colonel warns the sheriff that Rambo is, “a man whose been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that would make a Billy goat puke.” I subscribe to that notion, of mind over matter, so I fully expected the elements to change, for the better, as I continued laying motionless on the lounge chair.
Although my eyes were closed, during this rare occurrence, I could see continuous flashes of light through my eyelids, and I could hear the intermittent thunder as if it were in surround-sound. At first I couldn’t tell if God was crying or simply nourishing His creation. I know there’s a lot going on in this world worth crying over, but this rainstorm seemingly carried with it a message of peace and happiness with each and every raindrop. The rain increasingly became secondary to my profound thoughts which were typically reserved for the still of the night when nestled in my bed. I found myself praying, as if it was bedtime, and thanking the Lord for who He is and what He does. The rain was no longer cold and annoying, but warm and comforting, and I was filled with an unheralded contentment.
After soaking up the unique experience for awhile I was ready to go back inside, but I then suddenly felt challenged to ride out the gentle storm. It seemed as though I was being offered a chance to play a friendly game of “who’ll blink first” with God. I was just stubborn enough to remain there on my back, another several minutes, for the duration of the rainfall. I won the game but only because He was gracious enough to let me win. That’s what Father’s sometimes do for their children. After claiming victory, and entering the confines of my warm, dry house, it immediately began to rain again as if God was enticing me back outdoors for a rematch. I knew I’d probably lose this time, and I no longer had the yearning to be outside, so I decided to remain inside with my newfound memories of the unique experience. Laying naked outdoors during a rainstorm may be a bit unconventional, but at least I’m not one of those “patio people.” Not yet, anyway.