Updated: Mar 11, 2019
Has anyone else noticed how much rain we've been getting this year? It seems like more often than not, when I look out my window each morning, the sky is heavy and the landscape is drenched through and through. It strikes me that life can be like that sometimes. Whether its chronic physical pain, addiction, or grief, sometimes the landscape of our hearts is bleak. But once again, the scene outside my window reminds me of an equally important truth: the flowers need the rain.
Think back for a moment to your grade school classroom. Do you remember what plants require for photosynthesis? I'm sure you do! They need sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. It's a simple recipe for success, but the right amount of water is often the deciding factor as to whether or not the plant will flourish. Too much water, and the the roots will drown. Too little water and the leaves will turn yellow and wilt. You've probably experienced each of these instances first-hand. Remember that time when you saturated the potted plant on your front porch? Or that summer when it didn't rain for over a month? Both these examples illustrate the importance of a plant getting the right amount of water.
I think it's no surprise that Jesus chose water as the symbol of our new life in Baptism. If we look around us, we see reminders of our Baptism everywhere! In the waves of the ocean, in the river's current, and yes - even in the rain. But admittedly, the rain is far less inspiring than these other examples. With the rain comes clouds, and clouds blot out the sun. And then there's the hassle of walking in the rain which requires some foresight about what we're going to wear and how we're going to keep our belongings dry. And in the midst of all that annoyance, we can easily forget to look up and notice how much greener the grass has gotten.
This is the great paradox of the Christian life. Just like the flowers and the grass, we need the rain. We need to be willing to experience pain and difficulty in our daily walk with Christ if we want to grow in holiness. We live in an age when it is easier than ever to distract ourselves from the "big questions" and the difficulties of life. We can just download another gaming app, scroll through another social feed, binge another TV show on Netflix, surf another hour on the web, hit up another drive thru, light up another cigarette. And yet, even with all this entertainment - all this artificial sunlight - our lives would be incredibly empty without those more difficult moments - moments of self-confrontation, risk-taking, grieving, love - moments which nourish the soil of our hearts with relationships both human and divine.
At the Easter Vigil, St. Paul reminds us...
"Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection." –Romans 6:3-5
Every Catholic Church contains a crucifix above the altar: an image of Christ in the throes of his Passion. That image is a reminder to us that we have been united to a crucified Savior. But, as St. Paul promises, when we have been united in a death like his, we shall also share his resurrection. This is the promise that we must hold onto when we experience rainy days.
No matter what kind of suffering each of us may be encountering at the moment, we would do well to remember that if we allow him, God can bring forth even greater joy than the depths of our sorrow. This present suffering may moisten the soil of our hearts, but if we let God accompany us in our trial, when the sun returns we will delight in it all the more. We will be filled with His grace and his fragrance–a beautiful array of flowers in the garden of the Lord.
During the month of June, we have some really wonderful opportunities to nurture your relationship with God:
The Pentecost Day of Renewal can help you encounter the Holy Spirit in a powerful new way;
I hope you will pay us a visit real soon! May the flowers always remind you to hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God bless you,