“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.'” –Revelation 21:4
“WHAT DO YOU WANT?” This is what I wanted to shout at the sky on the eighth day of rain. I felt like I had every right, on account that I had happily (for the most part) beebopped along through the puddles on days one through four, grinned and borne it on days five and six, and sighed–but did not shout–on day seven. I wanted to look up and remind the heavens that I love the rain, that I write about it and smile in it and find it refreshing and symbolic and poem-worthy, and that, by and large, I could take a rainy day, but heavens, I wanted to say, why do you push me to where I break? Why must you, clouds, billow so far that I cannot spot one ray of relief? Why must you release so slowly, so that it takes days and days for you to become empty, so that moment by moment, the air is pregnant with you, and the earth cannot take you in?
At first, I felt strongly about keeping a positive outlook. I heard the grumbles in the Starbucks line, and I got them: wet socks/cold toes, windblown hair/snapped umbrellas, muddy shoes/wet everything, everything, everything. But I wanted to respect the sky, on account of he so often fills me with delight, and whispers truths to my faltering soul, and casts his beauty back onto me. So I would smile impishly when the people talked and try to insert something bright. Sometimes I would even give the sun the benefit of the doubt that the forecast hadn’t: “I’m sure he’ll come out tomorrow,” I said to the barista. “Anyway, it gives us something to talk about!” That barista looked at me as if he was considering forgetting about my latte, because he was mad at the water, and I wanted to say, “I know wet feet suck,” but I didn’t.
And then I began to get a little annoyed; I would wake up to that early-morning tinkling, that telltale heather filling my room where the sun used to shine. When the sun shines and the birds chirp, I want to press snooze; when it is raining, the mere notion of climbing out stirs tears before 7 a.m. So by day five or so–it’s all kind of hazy–I began the day by rolling my eyes at the weather, at the 10-day forecast that didn’t lie, at my neighbors upstairs who like to dance around on the squeaky floorboard directly above my head. I wanted to fling my window open, look up there, and accuse, “You’ve got me rolling my eyes before 7 a.m.! This is not fair! Give me something to work with!” I didn’t, though, because I would get wet.
The ninth day called for snow, and I am just as much enamored with it as the next raised-in-Alabama girl; moreover, I began to hang my hopes on something more beautiful than puddles, something more exciting than a sheet of droplets, and maybe, maybe, canceled class. I woke up on the ninth day to rain. I rolled my eyes. I pulled on my boots and huffed and puffed my way across campus to class. I did not even look at the sky; let him watch me, sweating in my rain jacket, gripping a straggling $6 umbrella who had been called upon more than he could manage, nearly slipping in my muddy boots.
It seemed that sky wanted to win me over, but not until he’d pushed me. I felt certain I couldn’t take the rain another moment, that if I had to zip up the jacket and juggle the umbrella and bag one more time, I was going to have to cry uncle. What I wanted to do was shake my fist at the sky and insist that it wasn’t fair, because it was raining and I wanted sunshine. When life is edging one way and I really wish it would swing it the opposite direction, it feels like rain; it feels unfair. But He asks us to Behold–to look. To shift our gaze to what he’s doing, To lose concentration in French class and allow my eye to catch what was happening outside. There, in the middle of class, I beheld, and I let out a gasp (I was raised in Alabama, remember.) He makes all things new.
I didn’t have a single friend available to roll around in the wonderland that piled up around me; instead, I got myself a cup of coffee and took myself to a quiet place and watched it rain magic, unsure of why this was so different, why I could love it if it was white and fluffy. I giggled–no, really, I don’t see snow a lot–as flakes landed on my cheeks, my nose, my coffee cup lid. I stared and stared, completely unable to drink it in fast enough, and somewhat terrified that I wouldn’t get my fill before it was gone. For every bit of me that the rain seemed to empty, the snow settled and warmed. Or maybe I’m wrong about that–maybe I simply eased my grip and held my hands out, letting them fill with what had been there all along. Either way, my mittens happened to be covered in snowflakes. I looked up at the sky, without words.
I think he must have smiled at me. “Oh, child,” I could hear the wind murmur, “all things are new.”
“The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.”
[cummings, of course]