It rained and it rained and it rained

September 5th, 2017

"It rained and it rained and it rained. Piglet told himself that never in all his life, and he was goodness knows how old—three, was it, or four?—never had he seen so much rain. Days and days and days.

“If only,” he thought, as he looked out of the window, “I had been in Pooh’s house, or Christopher Robin’s house, or Rabbit’s house when it began to rain, then I should have had Company all this time, instead of being here all alone, with nothing to do except wonder when it will stop.” And he imagined himself with Pooh, saying, “Did you ever see such rain, Pooh?”

Never have we seen so much rain in Houston and across southeast Texas. As many of you have experienced firsthand or have seen in news coverage, never have we undergone this kind of devastation. Living in Houston, I share with millions of others the pain and questions and confusion and fear and heartache and the palpable sense of "Wait, what just happened?"

And in the middle of the rising waters, the chaos of flood, and continuing relief efforts, never have I seen so much compassion concentrated in such an expansive place, pouring through the lives of so many people at one time.

Extraordinary obstacles created by 27 trillion gallons of rain — yes, trillion with a T — rising bayous, and overflowing rivers overcome by ordinary people moved by what Nouwen calls Compassion's "full immersion in the condition of being human." People from every background you can imagine — and probably some you cannot —– have been moved beyond the limits of ego-centric self-preservation to plunge into the "bursting waters of the great deep" to make sure no one has to be here all alone with nothing to do except wonder when it will stop. Out of the devastation, the fullness of what it means to be human has emerged.

And for me, that inspires hope. Not a pollyanna wishful thinking, but a view of a fuller future grounded in and rising through the soil and swill of our present struggle. Pain creates the condition for hope to thrive precisely because God shows up there. At least that's what my Christian spirituality teaches.

So, of course, we will face significant, even seemingly insurmountable challenges over the coming days, weeks, months, and heck, even years. But just knowing we are not out here all alone offers a window through which we can see a rainbow.

Hope charged by Compassion thrives in community. We hope in the company of others. No one hopes alone. Hope connects me to you, you to me, and all of us to each other.

Hope keeps company with the Spirit of God who stirs the dark, scary, and chaotic waters of the flood to create that which was not there before. As we pass through the waters, hope charged by the Divine current of Compassion gives us confidence that God is with us, made tangible and touchable by human acts of kindness. Courageous kindness "that refuses to be reduced to despair by present circumstance," as Walter Brueggeman writes.

I suppose that's why the Apostle Paul could say that hope, generated by the generous pour of God's love into our lives, does not fail. Even when — especially when — it rains and it rains and it rains.

This article originally appeared on the author's blog. Reprinted with permission.

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