“Well, there’s no doubt about it; you are running a bit sweet!” That’s how we learned our youngest child had diabetes. In the few minutes it took for the doctor to prick his finger, put the blot of blood on the test strip and let the machine do its work, everything changed in the life of our little boy. And it changed for the rest of the family as well.
And so it is with life. There are volcanoes – the things that explode on us and instantly everything changes. But then, there are the days and nights when a gentle, persistent rain falls. We might even be tempted to go out and play in it – the changes that come slowly enough for us to make sense of them.
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are volcanoes. Hilary Clinton and John Kasich are rainy days. (I’m not sure what Ted Cruz is.) What happened in Kabul and Brussels and Paris – those are volcanoes of terrorism that change everything in the blink of an eye. Technology is more of a rainy day, advancing slowly, persistently. We have a year or so to get accustomed to the iPhone 5 before the iPhone 6 arrives. Social media – that’s a rainy day with intermittent volcanoes – the tweet or status update or youtube video that goes viral.
When I was playing Little League I used to keep an eye on the sky on the days my team had a game. When it would start to rain I would go outside and, with my sneakers, try to rub the rain drops dry. I thought I could keep the earth dry enough so as to prevent my game from being cancelled. No matter how gentle the storm, I always lost to the raindrops. There were just too many of them.
Volcanoes have a way of momentarily demanding our attention and temporarily uniting us in our response to tragedy and injustice. But some of the most important issues of history are resolved more in the style of a soft, persistent rain. The forces of anti-racism will not go away. The dignity of LGBTQ folk will not be denied them. The rights of women to receive equal opportunity with equal pay will be granted them. Theodore Parker realized it over 150 years ago – history is not a tantrum; it is an arc. Justice is inherent in the DNA of the universe. It rains down upon us with a holy relentlessness. I don’t want to be an observer; I certainly don’t want to be counted among those trying to eradicate its effect on the soil of the human soul. I want to be a raindrop in that gentle storm, looking for others of like mind with whom to make a splash.