Proverbs raining Understanding, Grace, and Hay

May 29, 1020

On and off, we’ve had a fair amount of rain since Wednesday.  As rain often is this time of year, it has benefited some and not others.  Some without benefit are those who have cut hay or who have baled but the bales remain in the fields.  Questions arise for those folk. Is it going to rain too much?  Will the sun come out and stay out?  Will the wind come and dry the hay?  Will the undersides of bales mold?

I grew up in southern California.  The landscape of my youth was full of canyons.  The drainages, we called washes, were sand and gravel.  Over the ages these washes wandered back and forth creating canyon floors of, yep, sand and gravel.  From sand wash floor canyon forming ridges raised, fingering their way up to the mountains.  This is a dry and arid land; a land where rain came seldom and first drops often vanished upon touching the ground.  Growing up in arid canyon’s meant rain became important to me.  More often than not, rain was something good.  Waking in the morning hearing water drip from roof eave was comforting, and exciting.

The rains of the last week, have me looking around and wondering what it means for others who have hay on the ground.  How do they feel?  What does it mean emotionally? mentally? spiritually?

Yet, I imagine my thoughts are as much about me as they are about my neighbor.  Who am I emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, when the rain isn’t lived out as my childhood memories would have it?

Ancient proverbial writings are not a bad place to turn to in times of wondering.  Hebrew teachers living long before the Christian era used these writings and stories to teach their young folks basic stuff like how do we get along with one another, with the environment, and with ourselves?  Like today, the teachers of Proverbs understood individuals, communities, and nation states did not always live up to the ethic principles they set for themselves, and as a result, the wellbeing of people and of creation were lacking.

The writings of Proverbs, though, strove for something more than ethics.  Proverbs often strived to awaken that something residing deeply within ourselves that hungers for perfect relationship with the created universe.  These writings awaken us to the possibility that if the people of creation could grasp, could fasten onto a moment of pure understanding, a foundational shift in all of creation—bringing forth exhilarated oneness, is within reach.

The Proverbs keep on hanging-on, through the centuries, for the day, for the moment, when all that is explodes with a gladness, a delight, a blissfulness that makes creation and Creator one forever.

Imagine humanity, earth and sky, fire and water, wind and silence, plant and animal, rock and star becoming fully, intentionally, one.  Somewhere in this imagination, somewhere in believing the realm of all good is attainable, do we begin to hear proverbial poetry speaking to the hope and knowable created goodness flowing in and through and around all we are in the midst of all creation.

Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?

On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:

“To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.
The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first,
before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—

when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
(Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31)

The ancient proverbial writings are not the cure for angst when clouds rise up over the ridge and drops of water fall one after another into windrowed hay fields.  Yet the wisdom of an ancient people reminds us, reminds me, the firm skies above and the fountains of the deep are not a transgression upon us, but simply us.  There is perfectness where we perceive imperfectness.  Not to say everything happens for a reason, that is far too simplistic.  Rather, there is the unexplainable, that which is mystery, flowing in and through and around us giving us life, relationship, and connectedness.  If we open ourselves to that which cannot be taught, only perceived, then we find our sister, our brother, in the next cloud folding over the ridge.

© David B. Bell 2010

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