“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all.”
We have—we parched folk who have collectively survived this devastating summer in the state of Texas—been in a serious drought. We may be talking Dust Bowl Drought. We haven’t had any rain of real note since winter. This is a very long time.
My cockeyed optimist husband, Radar Rob, posted a prayer for rain on the refrigerator. Every morning, he prays aloud this prayer. I admire and want to emulate his conviction, his unceasing expectation, and his inexhaustible trust in answered prayers. In spirit and in practice, Radar Rob is steadfast. I have to give him that. Especially when it comes to precipitation. Rain is the elixir that keeps him healthy and content. I know this. I get this about him. As he likes to say, “It doth wash the dust from my soul.”
The reason I have dubbed him Radar Rob (I doubt he knows I have accorded him this moniker) is because he is a weather junkie. He will sit at the computer, stare at the weather radar as the green, yellow, and red rain bands come across the little X that marks our geographical spot in the universe. (He loves those red bands! And, did I mention, he will sit there for hours on end?)
Radar Rob will say things like, “Here it comes. It’s just about here. We’re gonna really get slammed. In just a few minutes. It’s here now. Yes, thank you, Lord! Okay, it’s moved on. Gone.” And then, he goes to bed and falls fast asleep a happy man.
While he is as content as a snug crustacean, I am sitting on the screened porch, shivering in tingles of anticipation for the real thing. I smell the musty aroma of life. I hear and feel God’s breath move across the thirsty, parched fields of hay. I gaze in awe as the first droplets of water caress emaciated pecan leaves. I marvel at the amazing gift that is rain.
But when it is over, I always want more. The gift is never enough. I’m afflicted with that sin of ingratitude. Sweet sleep for me will not come.
Okay, so I didn’t get exactly what I prayed for. Does Radar Rob throw in the towel? No way. Ever the believer, he predicts and looks forward to the next tropical storm in the Gulf. “Thursday,” he says. “We have a 50% chance of rain on Thursday.” Doesn’t that also mean that we have a 50% chance of no rain? And will I have an entire orchard that falls down during this precipitation melee?
Waiting for rain.
But what if the well runs dry? This morning, I was a dry creek bed of thoughts and ideas. Empty. Lifeless. I saw nothing out there to quench my thirst, and certainly no surplus to share with anyone else.
What if the wellspring of ideas, of creativity, of faith withers and turns brown? It is the fear of writers everywhere. Novelists often are convinced that the last sentence of their books are the last sentence they will write. Ever.
I hope. I constantly hope and long for words. Words. Words are the raindrops that I pray for. That I long for. That wash the dust from my soul.
When am I going to learn to trust? When I am going to learn patience? “To lie open,” as Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “to lie open, choiceless as a beach, waiting for a gift from the sea.” That is how I want to be. I want to live with anticipation, but I want to believe and to know that the gifts will come. They always have. They always will. God does answer prayers of hope.
At this moment, I have friends who are hurting. Who are dry. Who need so much. Who need Me. But when they need so much and I feel I have nothing to say or to give, what do I do? There is so much hurt in the world, and I know I am out of band-aids. I want to fight, but my arsenal is empty. This is when I need Grace. I need Grace to just rain down. Please, just rain down. My hands and my heart are open. Quench my thirst! Give me words.
But I know, if I ask for this, if I have true hope, I must be ready. God may show me places that are outside my comfort zone. He may give me words that I’m not sure I’m ready to say. Words I may not even know the meaning of. Still, I lie waiting. I wait with patience. I wait with anticipation. With hope. But, am I ready? Am I ready for what might come?