The amazing promise of rainBy Simeon Dumdum Jr.
Cebu Daily News
I could feel the coolness of the morning as I stood by the window. A breeze was pouring in. The curtains woke up to its gentle push, their folds rolling in lazy waves.
That very moment I breathed out a wish, no doubt inspired by the breeze, that somehow I would understand the workings of the Holy Spirit.
I found myself a seat in the garden, and there said the Morning Prayer. On the road outside, a vendor passed by, his hand pumping a rubber horn, sending out short, sharp sounds announcing his presence. I could hear, as I read the psalms, a neighbor giving vent to his irritation at the continual toot of the pump. And then, quite unexpectedly, as though to compensate for the neighbor’s curses, a sunbird alighted on a nearby branch and began chirping. I listened to it for a while before going back to the Liturgy of the Hours, and finished the prayers without incident.
After breakfast, I took a taxi to the courthouse. The driver had turned on the radio to a soap about an overbearing wife, suspicious of her husband’s female office colleagues, badgering him to admit to having liaisons with them. Since no amount of denial would appease her, the man made as if he were finally confessing, and narrated his supposed exploits in shocking detail. This proved too much for the woman, who collapsed and had to be taken to a hospital.
The man then asked for advice from a panel as to what he should do. It was all a put-on, of course, but before the panelists could give their advice the taxi had arrived at the courthouse. Nonetheless, I was sure that the proposed solution would just be as hilarious as the problem.
Rain began to fall. I made a dash for the entrance. The door to my office carries the sign, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.” I just looked at it casually as I walked in. But because I had them typed on a piece of paper, which I had tacked onto a wall mirror, I could not escape reading these words from Isaiah, and so, as I put on the judge’s robe, I recited them: “I rejoice greatly in Yahweh, my soul exults for joy in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of his righteousness….”
I went through the morning’s routine. Two weddings were scheduled for that day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The first pair got to know each other through the Internet. The second were childhood sweethearts who rediscovered each other after the man had gone through a failed marriage.
I remembered my morning wish. I opened the Liturgy of the Hours and came across a passage from St. Irenaeus—”Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven.”
The mention of flour brought me back to my mother’s visit that morning. She gave me some rice cakes. We talked about a native pastry that I craved, and the way it was prepared. She told me how to knead the dough, and how long I was to wait for the yeast to act before cooking.
I ended the day in a church, with a Holy Mass. There again was bread—the Body of Christ. I had felt the disparateness of the day’s events—the Morning Prayer, the cursing neighbor, the bird, the radio drama, the court hearings, my mother’s visit, the weddings. And I told myself that, if they must happen at all, there should be something that held them together, aside from time, that the day could not just be dry flour, that its events must be of a piece, a lump of dough made one by water. And if, in silence and prayer, I could just walk back with the Lord to review the day, he would surely speak to my heart and show me how everything should fit together and find completion in him, and how the water that had turned the dry flour into dough could only be the water of the Holy Spirit.
After that, I just wanted it to rain. The news had reported that there would be plenty of it. And the Gospels—news that remains news (to use Ezra Pound’s allusion to poetry)—did forecast a generous, bountiful and abundant rainstorm of gifts from the Spirit of God on the Day of Pentecost.
Hence, St. Irenaeus continued, “like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above.”
And we would never have felt the peace. As does every heavy rain, the power of the Holy Spirit leaves a breeze, gently tugging at the curtains.
More from this Column:
- The persistence of memory
- Round as tomatoes
- The name of the rose
- The Third man
- How to live a long life