|Every valley drinks,|
Every dell and hollow:
Where the kind rain sinks and sinks,
Green of Spring will follow.
Yet a lapse of weeks
Buds will burst their edges,
Strip their wool-coats, glue-coats, streaks,
In the woods and hedges;
But for fattening rain
We should have no flowers,
Never a bud or leaf again
But for soaking showers;
We should find no moss
In the shadiest places,
Find no waving meadow grass
Pied with broad-eyed daisies:
But miles of barren sand,
With never a son or daughter,
Not a lily on the land,
Or lily on the water.
~Christina Georgina Rossetti from “Winter Rain” from Poems of Christina Rossetti (1904)
Reading the news of ongoing drought in the U.S. Southwest being the worst in over a thousand years, I look at our over-filled Northwest rain gauges with renewed appreciation and gratitude. We’ve had more “fattening” rain than typical over the last several months, which at times resulted in devastating flooding and damage, impacting hundreds of homes and businesses. Yet, but for rain, we too would become miles and miles of barren sand, with nothing able to thrive and grow, no sons or daughters or the beauty of the lilies.
I love our “kind” rain: the wet, the drizzle, the mist, the gray, the clouds, the mud, the moss, the slosh and the “evening dews and damps.”
“In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea…”
The rain transfigures us all.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
~Julia Ward Howe (published 1862)
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