Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Today's rainy day reminded me of a narrative essay I wrote: It was imitating one of Annie Dillard's essays in her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. With all the rain happening this year, I wanted to share my take on it.....

RAIN ● Ten years ago, I grew interested in rain. Why does it rain? Where does it come from? I thought rain was God crying at the evil that inhabited the world: school shootings infuriating God’s heart and then shattering His faith in His creations down below, and then rain. This, I learned, is not the truth.

Clouds make rain; their shape grows large and the water droplets form from warm air and start banging together forming even bigger drops. When the drops get heavy, they fall to street signs, leaves, cars, roofs and statues—the water droplets to drenched lands.

Rain falls over everything. If you stay still, rain buries you, ready or not. The drops on the top of your heels or sandals fill puddles around you, and pretty soon your feet are drenched. The water rises over your ankles and up your calves. If you stand in line at the frat long enough, you and your friends will stand upright and drown like the Titanic’s passengers.

Regions of northern Japan slipped into the landslides as heavy rains fell upon them; thirty-five people swam into endless amounts of waters and drowned. “Emergency officials in Niigata province warned that even light rain could set off new landslides because the soil has been loosened by tremors and rain.”

Bolivia has been bombarded, according to the news reporter, who wrote “floods and torrential rain have devastated large parts of Bolivia causing a sharp rise in malaria and dengue.” South Korea’s center of the country was once hit with “the heaviest rainfall in thirty-seven years,” killing thirty-six people and leaving fourteen missing.

In 2000, there were 3,482 unintentional drowning in the United States, an average of nine people per day, according to U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. There are three ways to drown.

Drowning is death caused by suffocation when a liquid creeps into the body’s tube that absorbs oxygen and leads to the asphyxia.

Near drowning is saying that you inhaled water and are still undergoing serious secondary complications and can still die, even after the event.

Secondary drowning is death due to chemical or biological changes in the lungs after a near drowning incident.

According to Jewish religion, the Prayer for Rain is recited on Shemini Atzeret, as soon as the Lulav is laid down, when Jews are no longer commanded to dwell in the Succah: WHO CAUSES THE WIND TO BLOW AND THE RAIN TO FALL. Catholic farmers and gardeners alike all have to pray for rain periodically: O GOD, IN WHOM WE LIVE AND MOVE, AND HAVE OUR BEING, GRANT US RAIN IN DUE ABUNDANCE. THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD, AMEN. Be careful what you pray for.

Rain drowns. Water droplets soak. They fall as if thrown and whipped from the clouds. At heavenly heights earth’s weight pushes raindrops to all naked surfaces: dorms, drains, cracks between rocks and steps. Raindrops range from .0254cm to .635cm in diameter and fall between 7 and 18 miles per hour. In the fullness of each drop, your nose registers a musty smell; rain kicks up tiny particles and spores are released. So it’s not the rain you smell, but the bacteria.

Forty-two inches soaked Boston, Massachusetts six years ago. Eleven inches drenched Los Angeles, California in a year. Natanya, Israel was cooled off with twenty-one inches of “musty smell” in a year. Tegucigalpa, Honduras dried off thirty-six inches last year. Rain forests get nine feet of rain each year.

It’s a joke to think that we, humans, are invincible. I mean c’mon, look at Noah’s generation. Rain flooded the land and it took him days for a dove to fly through it all to tell him he and a bunch of animals are the only one’s left in the world. God was pissed then. Will he ever get pissed again?

The closer we grow to death, the more closely we follow the weather channel restating God’s steps to our inevitable demise. Day after day, without ever estimating when that final shower will be, I watch the weather channel. I read the city and region section of the news paper, click on the weather tab and watch old guys telling me that more rain is to be expected in the month of April. I observe the animals’ tempers, but do not do anything but buy an umbrella.

Quick: Why aren’t you building a boathouse? On every continent, we raise houses, build trenches and pump pumps not only to keep dry, but to forestall drowning.


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