I’ve lived in Portland for more than a month now, and as I write this we are experiencing our first real rain since I’ve been here. For those that know me well, I love the rain. It was actually a contributing factor to my original interest in moving to the Pacific Northwest. We were at a friends’ house this evening and they laughed as my kids literally kept stopping what they were doing to point out the rain and enjoy it.
Now type these words on my front porch and I’m in awe of the sound of the rain falling into the trees around my house and the intoxicating smell of the crisp air filling my lungs. It makes me feel both sleepy and yet somehow alive at the same time. But the irony is that almost everyone I’ve talked to around here is dreading the fact the rain is back. This summer has been one of the driest in recent memory and yet many Oregonians have been soaking up every ounce of sunshine.
It’s the difference of perspective. I spent the summer in the intense Arizona heat only to come to Oregon at the end of a very warm summer and into a house with no air conditioning (yes my AZ friends, you read that right). I could not wait for the cooler air to come. Yet everyone keeps telling me how tired I’ll get of the rain once it begins in earnest. I have no idea whether I will get sick of the rain and when that might happen if it does, but I also know that I’ve spent my entire life in sunshine. I’ve never really had seasons with leaves that change and snow that signals the arrival of Christmas. My new friends around me have a very different experience than that.
I feel like most people here are missing out on fully enjoying the rain right now. And they equally think I’m crazy for not cherishing the sunshine that has recently departed us. Yet this is the benefit of the adventure of life. Of stepping out into something new and seeing it with fresh eyes, even if that also means you don’t really know what you’ve gotten yourself into. It would likely be the way a person from Portland would feel upon moving to Arizona in November.
I’m reminded of something I wrote years ago connecting rain and theology:
Exploring deeper theology—especially ideas which are new to you—is like taking the roof off your bedroom. You begin to see the night sky and the stars in all their brilliance. But you also experience a new vulnerability from the rain when it storms. The question for each of us is whether we are willing to trade the one for the other.
I may need to plan a few trips back home to reset my sunshine meter, but right now I’m trying to savor the moment and the newness of my experiences. I’ve definitely “removed the roof” off of what feels comfortable and I’m experiencing the rush and the craziness of the night sky. I don’t want to lose this perspective and suddenly realize I’ve been staring at my ceiling.
How’s your view?