Shakespeare writes of mercy falling as the “gentle rain from heaven”. Rain doesn’t always fall; in a Scotch mist it drifts, almost suspended.
A medieval poet yearned in the warm rain:
Westron wind, when wilt thou blow?
The warm rain down doth rain.
Oh, that my love were by my side
And I in her arms again.
It was no warm and gentle rain that fell for forty days and nights in Noah’s day. It is the rain that lashes our cheeks in the gale, drives horizontally before the roaring wind, and seems to go on forever, that seems to have been invented as a punishment for human wickedness. Perhaps with global warming we have invented our own substitute?
But – we have since been told that God sends the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just, and on the unjust, I don’t think the good people at the local Christian school believed that God deliberately washed a naughty bulb grower’s livelihood off the top of the hill, to present them, at the bottom, with a layer of rich soil and a glory of springtime daffodils.
During the Gulf War we were shown the people of southern Iraq moving among the silt islands formed by many generations of Biblical rains. In this flood prone area they lived on their reed boats together with wives and children, cows and sheep and goats and donkeys, for all the world like miniature arks; whether they shaped the story of the flood or learned from it, who knows?
North of Bangladesh, the devastated forests no longer hold back and control the rainfall, and thousands die when the lowlands flood. One man’s bank account is death to whole villages – somewhere else.
What the swamp dwellers of Iraq did learn, is a common sense way of living with rain, and punishment and death came to them only from man.
Yet the planet is renewed by natural disasters, its soil enriched by flood-born silt, and the rain of volcanic dust. Common sense should tell us to avoid living on flood plains, volcanic slopes, and fault lines.
It might not be much comfort when it is on our own property that too much rain falls; but still we do well to remember that:
One man’s loss is another man’s daffodils.