Michelle Martin

Into each life …

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

I woke this morning to a chilly breeze and gray skies, with a drizzle so fine there was no patter of raindrops on the windowpane.

It took a glance outside to see that the asphalt and concrete were wet, and that the rain, such as it was, was still falling.

A blessing after several weeks of dry weather had turned what passes for our lawn into straw and crisped the edges of the leaves on our most hardy perennials.

The dog — who veers as far as possible from any sprinkler we pass on our daily walks — did not agree. She was not pleased to be outside, and ran for the door and safety from the rain as soon as possible.

Water, we are told repeatedly, is life. We need it to wash, to drink and to grow food. Good weather, by which I mean the proper proportion of both sun and rain, was so important to one of my great-grandfathers that he noted it every day in his journal, along with how the crops were doing and any other major developments on his Iowa farm.

But rain, in popular imagination, also stands for suffering and bad times. That’s why we have rainy day funds, talk about clouds’ silver linings and look forward to the rainbow after the storm. That’s why, in the mythical Camelot, “it never rains ‘til after sundown,” when the earth can benefit from the moisture but its human inhabitants don’t have to see it.

It feels like a contradiction; which is it, good or bad? A healing balm, a solvent that washes away the dirt, a necessary nutrient that makes up well more than half of our bodies, or something that spoils a summer day, sends us indoors and searching for umbrellas and boots?

It’s both, of course. There is no life without water, and there is no life that is all sunny days. People don’t all encounter the same amount of suffering, of course; I’m relieved to say that compared to some, perhaps most, my life has been mostly easy, and every day I meet or read about or hear about people who are enduring situations I can’t and don’t want to imagine.

Even so, the one constant of earthly life is death. If we are alive in this world, we must die in it as well, and so must the people we love. Even Jesus died, participating in our suffering, taking on the fullness of our humanity while redeeming us for eternal life.

We don’t enjoy the suffering or the pain that comes with life, but it’s possible to enjoy the literal rainy days, to sit on the porch with coffee or inside with a book. Let’s take time to do that, and to appreciate that to be human is to feel the pain of loss that only comes because we have also known the joy of love.



  • family life