And Let the Clouds Rain

And Let the Clouds Rain June 29, 2024

rain leaving circles in a puddle of water
image via Pixabay


I always forget that some people don’t love the rain.

The daily weather forecast isn’t announcing rain, it’s warning people of rain, as if rain were a bad thing. It’s cautioning people so that they can carry their umbrellas and not plan time outdoors. When it says “”ninety percent chance of rain,” they’re estimating high so that people will be pleased if they’re wrong. To me, “ninety percent” is an exhilarating promise. I wait for the rain as the numbers on the forecast go from ninety percent to eighty percent to fifty to twenty, and the clouds blow by without letting down a drop.

On Sunday night, it was supposed to rain as the heat dome dissipated, but we barely got a drizzle. I sat on my back porch late in the evening, watching a black cloud roll in over a navy sky, breathless with anticipation, but the cloud passed right over and left me with nothing. No cooling shower. No soft earth. No nourishment for the plants. No petrichor.

The next day was less stifling hot, but sunnier.

Every late June I can remember has had similar disappointments.

Jimmy the Mechanic was running back and forth to grab one piece or another out of Serendipity. At first he thought the problem was the whole engine, but now he’s sure it’s the fuel injector. In between other odd jobs he’d dig part of the engine out, put it in the trunk for safe keeping, and then disappear again. Eventually he got the four fuel injectors and took them back to his house for cleaning and examination. He came back later to say one injector was totally dead, so we ordered a new one. It’ll be here by Sunday. I couldn’t drive out to the lake for a swim, so I sulked indoors.

Once in awhile I’d go out to tend the garden. It was so thoroughly soaked the day I went to Robinson that for several days, it didn’t notice the heat wave and the drought. By mid-week, though, things took a turn for the worse. The soil was dry, gray, and hard as a rock. The bottommost leaves of the tomatoes went yellow. The squash got white spots on the leaves. One of the baby pumpkins dropped off the pumpkin plant, a  sure sign of blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency. It can mean a lack of minerals in the soil, or it can mean that the plant isn’t getting enough minerals because it’s not soaking up enough water.

I ran to get the milk. It wouldn’t fix the drought, but it would provide some minerals before I lost the whole crop.

Rorate, Caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum. Rorate Caeli desuper, at nubes pluant iustum.  

What does that mean again?  “Drop dew, ye Heavens from above, and let the clouds rain the One who is Just?” or “Drop dew, ye Heavens from above, and let the clouds rain justice?”

Is “Iustum” a just man who’s going to save us? Or is it justice in general; every sinner getting the nasty thing that they deserve?

Isn’t that what justice is? A spanking? A jail sentence? The wicked witch getting thrown in a cauldron of poisonous snakes? Rain isn’t justice. Rain is a treat. Rain is mercy. Rain is a treat.

Who would dare pray for justice?

Rorate, Caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum. Be not angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity: behold, the city of the Holy One is become a desert: Sion is become a desert: Jerusalem is desolate: the house of thy  sanctification and of thy glory, where our fathers praised thee. Rorate, Caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum. 

That sounds like you should be praying for mercy, for God to let you off the hook, and not for justice.

I came out with the gallon jug just as the clouds were gathering, days later than I’d longed for. The meteorologist said there was a chance of torrential rain again, but this time I didn’t dare to hope. There is a moment, here in northern Appalachia, in late June or early July, when I start to believe that rain doesn’t exist, and I’d reached that point. Water wasn’t a thing that dropped mercifully from the sky. Water was something to be dragged outside in buckets or taken as a favor from the neighbor’s hose. God created clouds to torment the unworthy and not to drop precious nourishment for free.

As I watered the squash with milk, the tormenting clouds shook out a few big heavy drops, and then stopped. A tease. Pure sadism, worse than no rain at all.

If there was a God, I felt, he had abandoned the pumpkins to die.

I went inside as the wind whipped my messy hair and tugged at my loose summer clothes. All I wanted was to go out hiking at the mineral spring and stick my head under the waterfall again, but the waterfall would be dried up even if I did have a car to get to Pennsylvania. Nothing could live in this drought. We were doomed.

Rorate, Caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum. 

I read and wrote and tended the guinea pig, trying not to look out the window.

Every time I peeked outside, I saw a few lazy drops on the sidewalk, and nothing else.

Adrienne came down and asked for dinner. I boiled some spaghetti, with no enthusiasm at all. Who can eat when it’s hot and dry out?

I glanced at the sky out the kitchen window, and saw it was dark.

No, that wasn’t right. It shouldn’t be dark. It wasn’t winter. It doesn’t get dark at six in the afternoon. But again, I didn’t dare look.

The wind blew harder, rattling the old windows.

I ran to the porch.

It was pouring.

The sidewalks were slick glass. The grass was bending over. The rain was driving down so hard that I could barely see Serendipity parked in front. There was the glorious smell of rain. There was the cool air I’d missed so much. It went on for an hour or more.

I went out to the garden after it stopped, and the packed gray earth was warm brown soil again. Birds were singing. Sunflowers were starting to bloom. Everything was right and just and alive.

The Just One, you see, He hadn’t forgotten. To create a thing as wondrous and as frail as a pumpkin, or a flower, or a tomato vine, or a human being, comes with an obligation to have mercy and bring the rain. Mercy is a kind of justice.

It’s raining again now.


Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

"But he has courted the people who are like him. THEY want to be powerful. ..."

Trump Selects Vance, And I Have ..."
"I don’t think Trump arranged the attempt, but his rhetoric and movement have helped create ..."

Another Word on Saturday’s Assassination Attempt
"I think the problem is less about people becoming conservatives, and more about becoming extremists ..."

Trump Selects Vance, And I Have ..."
"As I said, I read his book, and I do sympathize with what he went ..."

Trump Selects Vance, And I Have ..."

Browse Our Archives