Rain Dance

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Groundhog Day was the first rainy Sunday this winter. After church, a parishioner shook my hand and told me he'd heard local Muslims had been praying for rain.

It's true, and the Muslims weren't the only ones. Every protestant pastor in California worth her or his salt has been petitioning the almighty for precipitation. Catholic bishops have directed the faithful to pray for rain. And in East San Jose, a local Aztec dance troupe has been doing pre-Columbian rain dances in the parking lot of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

Even my sister, who, last I heard, religiously self-identified as "none of the above" posted a photo of her son on Facebook. He was wearing a raincoat and rubber boots. The caption on the photo said, "Here's hoping for a wet February!" That counts as a prayer in my book.

There really is nothing good to say about a drought. I grew up in Mendocino County, where some communities are looking at running out of water and just in time for the start of summer, which will complicate even simple tasks like getting a drink or using the commode -- that is, of course, unless all of our prayers are answered and we get a very wet spring, which is possible. The forecast looks promisingly damp.

Though I am religious, I am not superstitious. I understand that no prayer, however earnest and sincere, is an incantation with a guaranteed result. I don't know if our prayers for an end to the drought will be answered, but I keep praying anyway because I like knowing that the longings of my soul are shared by so wide and varied a community of religious folks and non-believers alike.


If in this world so riven by conflict and vitriol, my progressive Calvinist supplications are joined by those uttered by people who pray facing Mecca and Jerusalem and Benares; if Sikhs and Catholics and Buddhists and non-believers all can agree that we need a little bit of moisture from heaven, and if that common desire for rain -- or even a heavy mist -- can cause us to forget our acrimony, even for a short time, then something like a miracle has taken place, even if, come August we won't be able to flush our toilets.
And I'll take a miracle wherever I can find one.

With a Perspective, I’m Ben Daniel.

Ben Daniel is the incoming pastor of Montclair Presbyterian Church.