by Sr. Noeleen Mooney, MMM Ireland 18.11.2021
Until I came from Tanzania back to Ireland, I hadn’t realized just how much my attitude to rain had changed. When it rains here, I hear people describe it as ‘a dirty day’ or ’miserable weather’. Maybe these are only conventions of speech, but they strike me as being hollow and untrue.
Living in a semi desert, as I did in Tanzania for many years, with not a drop of rain for at least seven months of the year, has changed my concept of what rain is and does.
I remember the collective anxiety when the time for the beginning of the rainy season draws near. The scanning of the sky to see if the little puffs of white clouds might join together; the bursting forth of the jacaranda trees – all the preludes to what you hope for, but can never take for granted.
When the rain does come, it’s a steady downpour, drumming on the corrugated roofs and releasing the most marvellous smell of freshness. Many insects that have been waiting for just such a signal begin to emerge. The sandy fields are all prepared, back breakingly with a hoe; maize, millet, sorghum and beans are all planted in hope.
Each year we pray that the rain will be enough, that it won’t be too heavy and flatten the tender shoots – that it will last long enough.
In recent years the rainy season has become shorter. You can imagine what this means in a country where, at least in the rural areas, families are expected to grow enough food for their own needs.
Sandy soil doesn’t retain water. A few days without rain at the crucial time is enough to wither the sturdiest stalks.
No social welfare or crop failure compensation exists – just certain hunger before the next planting season.
So, you see, rain for me can never be ‘miserable weather’ but a life-sustaining blessing from God.
OBS: This was an audio recording for RTE Radio 1: A Living Word.