When one member of our community tells us he plans on being somewhere, he often says, "God willing and the creek don't rise." I've never before seen firsthand how true the second part of that statement is. This old saying is truly taking on new meaning today, as multiple meetings are now in flux because, as the creeks around us rise, even the short mile or two trip includes a significant amount of danger.
Yet, even the flash flooding doesn't necessarily make the rain a bad thing. Some gifts are dangerous. We must learn to use them wisely and treat them with respect. Our lands need this rain to refresh the parched soil, to restore our water supplies, and even to cleanse our air. In times like this, we must rearrange our lives to accommodate the gift. For rains like this, we must travel only when necessary, and at that point, take the safer, drier route, no matter how far out of our way that might be. While even this doesn't ensure our safety, it provides us with a best way forward amidst the conditions, with a way to accept the gift graciously and responsibly.
Many other gifts that come at us this way, and especially in this quantity, entail different sorts of dangers. Love is chief among these gifts. Like rain, when love comes to a soul that's not seen or experienced that kind of care for a long time, it often runs like a flashflood, not sinking in at first. Like a parched soil, sometimes people aren't prepared to receive love. This gift arrives as a dangerous deluge, not because it is a bad gift, but because we don't necessarily know how to respond.
Yet, like this rain, that love also helps to prepare the soil of our hearts to receive more love. Eventually the dry soil of our hearts becomes enriched by the presence of love, permeated by that love, and made able to hold even more of that love. Love still retains the potential to bring us pain, and often brings with it danger. But it becomes a pain that hurts on behalf of another. It becomes the danger of learning to love others.
Just as we must learn to accept the gift of this rain, so too we must learn to embrace the gift of love from God and others. As we receive that love, we learn not only that we are loved, but how to love others, how to give of ourselves as we take the risks involved with loving and being loved.