Joy in a Sonoran Rain

There is nothing more lovely than a Sonoran winter rain. Pouring silver; large drops weighted by the ice of the winter world that surrounds The Valley of the Sun. The ice that melts into rain before it hits the warm desert floor, as snow buries the surrounding mountain rim. The dry soil welcomes the steady feeding of moisture in ground cooled enough to receive it and even store it safely, deep down below the surface. The peace of acceptance fills the atmosphere, as the rain washes the resting desert clean. There is a sense of sorrow, as all that stood and appeared strong in the previous season is washed away and all debris is broken down to become one with the soil. This short, quiet space in time, labeled as winter in the Sonora, is appropriated to building the foundation of the new season to come. This water that falls from the heavens is worth more than gold and everything that lives in the green desert depends upon it for life and by the wisdom intrinsic to its design, the Sonoran Desert submits to the washing, the rearranging that comes by the sheer force of water. The normal state of drought is fully satiated as the water overflows to fill the lakes and reservoirs that will be so needed when the rainy season ends. This strange season, so uncharacteristic of the desert’s usual appearance, is necessary or the fierce heat that tests all Sonoran life in summer would be devastating. This low lying climate would be left void, without the teeming life it sustains, and become nothing but hard packed ground. No one could enjoy this wonderful Valley of the Sun if it were not for these cloudy, gray, wet days.

Mourning is a season most struggle to avoid but mourning is the time when the foundation of the future is laid. When it comes, it is best to accept it and let go of all that is being beat down and rearranged. God loves a broken, contrite heart and God’s presence is all encompassing when a tired, broken heart opens to Him. When sorrow pours from skies cloudy with gloom and thoughts of past sunny days bring a deep sense of loss in their vanishing, this is joy: no matter how chaotic or abhorrent such a season may seem, God has His fingers laced tightly around all of it and those who belong to Him. When we are weak and there is nothing to hold onto amid the rushing flood, God holds us close and is working all the pain to our future good. The surety in life is that our purpose in Him will be fulfilled. In trusting God peace is found, even in the midst of a severe storm. In acceptance of God’s Will is the power to utilize mourning, as time spent alone with God, as He satiates grief and fills our deep reservoirs with Truth. He fills all sorrowful, dry basins that will become life sustaining lakes in the future, with the joy found in Jesus. Even if our bodies are part of the refuse to be broken down and washed away, for those hidden in Christ, it is but a natural part of the overall cycle of life, which we are part of. In Christ, all endings are beginnings for life is eternal. In Jesus, a melancholy rain is lovely. A time to rest securely in God’s presence and drink in the sustenance of His Spirit and wait as the great wheel turns, assuring the continued spinning of the other smaller wheels, He encircles.

By God’s Love the Sonora remains green. By His grace, the sorrowful season passes and the desert blooms in a fantastic, colorful display of continuing life. This is the assured hope of faith.

From Mourning to Joy

When loss and sorrow knock on the door, there is no denying grief or the process of mourning. However, it is natural to recoil from the pain and very human to attempt to flee. Grief is as hot and dry as June in the desert, during a long drought. The body, heart, and soul shrivel with thirst when it ravages. When the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth and lips crack due to thirst, the high country calls through remembrances of alpine relief, at an altitude high above the suffering of the dry valley below. It seems logical then to dissociate from sad reality and avoid mourning by escaping to the high country. How easy it is to lose one’s self in meadows carpeted by colorful flowers, watered by the still-melting snow. In a mountain June when summer is just beginning, it can seem as if such a heavenly paradise could last forever. The land itself provides food and water enough to sustain the fanciful runaway seeking avoidance of a painful reality…at least, for a short season. Such cooling relief is found here, high above the scorching desert, enveloped in peaceful, majestic beauty! High granite cliffs, where the precious Columbine bloom, produce a special sense of insular safety, as large dark caves promise shelter from summer mountain rains. The grim reality and sorrowful drought of the desert grow more distant with each passing day and it’s so easy to imagine forever, remaining aloof in this comforting solitude.

Summers are brief in the mountains. Days soon pass into weeks and months, as the dry heat travels upward from the desert valley, making its way to the high peaks. The flowers fade and the green grasses mature, in browns and purple hued grays. Grief and mourning won’t be denied their due process and the sorrow of loss stalks its victims. None are wily enough to successfully hide from mourning or forever escape. The void of loss must be faced or it grows to become a starving black hole that no method of coping can assuage. Its ravaging is sure to devour everything valuable, leaving only the fantasy that keeps it growing. Only, truthful reckoning can satisfy it. The reality avoided is sure to reappear. Like a sudden reflection in a mountain stream that reveals the true state of self; of someone on the run, hiding in the mountains, with tangled hair, worn out clothes, and new wrinkles around glassy, delusional eyes. Cold nights with chilly winds, late summer hail-storms, and the leaves changing color, make it clear that the dark season is coming down fast and hard. Truth is present. Mourning can’t be avoided and facing it here, on the mountain in winter would likely, prove fatal. Hungry, sleepy bears and mountain lions (the rightful residents) will soon be claiming all caves. The desert run-away could easily, end up as prey. It’s time to head back down the mountain, to the valleys and the rivers where human beings live and face the reality that can’t be denied.

Acceptance is the beginning. Grief is the accounting. Mourning brings the tears that cleans and heal. An awful truth can bring overwhelming sadness but mourning releases joy, imprisoned in sorrow. Joy even grows stronger in those who embrace divine truth and endure. The joy of Jesus is buoyancy, when grief with sorrow floods our lives and threatens with drowning pain. In Christ we can face all things, do all things, and endure all things. Through faith, we’re given courage to stand and have no need for escape to the safety of some imagined mountain top. Faith is not a dissociative state but strength to endure life in the valleys and the power to overcome.