December 17, 2020

It Rains, It Pours

We’re in water. As the big wet sets into our valley, I began to meditate on rain. Scientifically, the water cycle is fairly easy to comprehend as a workflow of evaporation, precipitation and gravity doing its thing. But the rain has fascinated people across many traditions and ages, and called them to make meaning beyond the scientific.

Since there is no escaping the rain, I thought it might be a good idea to dive into those meanings – to try and find some meaning in a year that has made no sense and now this.

In the western tradition (Judeo-Christian) rain has been a symbol of god’s anger. The phenomena of thunder and lightning do invoke explosive wrath of a hyper-being and the rain sets in like a slow-release fury-valve.

By contrast, in many First Nation cultures of North America, rain is considered a gift from the gods. The role of ‘rain’ is so important in many of these traditions that there is a Rain God – often portrayed with outstretched arms and rain falling in sheets, like grace.

While the European tradition with its soggy peat and mild climate has taught children nursery rhymes like “rain, rain, go away,” in other parts of the world that are water-poor, the rain has a much more esteemed place in a culture that recognises its importance from an economic perspective. In Botswana, the word for rain, pula, is the same word for their currency.

Most scientists will agree that the reason our species has been able to flourish in the way that it has over the past few hundred thousand years, compared to previous ages has been a predictably of weather. This stable climate, known as the Holocene, has allowed for the development of agriculture and logistics – two things we may not think about but which are essential to our survival.

While our present attitudes to rain might be impacted by an experience of destruction or simply inconvenience, for many 21st century humans, it is a time to reassess our relationship with weather as we attempt to both research and live the experience of climate change.

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