Two inches of gentle rains in July! What a wonderful gift from God we received last weekend in this part of the world!
Jesus didn't dwell on the weather very much (you can tell he was the son of a carpenter, not a farmer). Yes, there was the storm on the Sea of Galilee, but if he had been the son of a farmer, there surely would have been a lot more parables that involved the weather. He would have at least mentioned needing a little rain when he talked about scattering the seeds on the soil and the rocks. And there would have been ample opportunity to talk about keeping the weeds from overwhelming the good seeds, lots of opportunity for parables there!
As a farm kid growing up in central Nebraska, weather was at the center of our universe and July was a hopeful but worrisome time for my parents. Early July would start with the wheat harvest, almost always accompanied by the hot dry winds blowing off the wheat stubble fields from Kansas, winds that felt and acted like nature's hair dryer, sucking the moisture out of everything in their path. Conversations among the adults were almost always dominated by the weather of the moment, and how much the corn and the pastures were in need of a "nice" rain. In July, we all became avid sky watchers, anxiously searching the western horizon for signs of a "cloud." My mother would remark, "at least there's a cloud in the west" (these were the days before weather radar). Sometimes, the "cloud" would grow larger on the horizon, hastening the approaching evening twilight. As the darkness deepened, we could see the flickering of lightning and feel the rumble of distant thunder as the storm approached. If the storm finally reached us, it wasn't always a "nice" rain. Blinding flashes of light followed immediately by earsplitting crashes of thunder and howling winds would send us huddling together in the basement. Amidst the fury of the storm, we would listen intently, eager to hear the sound of rain on the roof, hoping against hope that the rain would not be accompanied by hail. I still vividly remember my parents trying to nail a piece of plywood over a smashed window as the wind-driven hail and rain drenched our living room.
So here we are! It's late July, the corn and soybeans are eagerly soaking up the rains of the weekend, and the possibility of a bountiful harvest looks more promising every day. It's an amazing place and time of year to be a farmer (or son of a farmer)! So to all of you who may have had your campfires doused or had to bring your picnic indoors, I suggest you find your way into the countryside, find a quiet country road or a trail, gaze into the fields stretching into the distance and contemplate for a moment the miracle of this place we inhabit, this earth, this continent, this land! It might also be a good moment to say a prayer for those whose lands are not so fertile, whose crops couldn't be planted because of war, or have been destroyed by storms worse than the ones I remember.
May God bless you and your crops, whatever they may be....