Betty Duffy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

People all over the world were contemplating the problem of evil, when it started to rain...

Another oldie:

Early this morning, I went for a run at my parents’ house. They live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields, small rocky creeks, and woods that are mungy and green as a jungle at the moment. A threat of rain hung in the air, but it was cool enough that the mosquitoes didn’t cluster in the ditches and dips in the road.

I decided to run hills, which took me past the home of my parents’ illustrious neighbors: in the mid-nineties, a grown son, one of eight children, murdered his mother, father, and several siblings with a rifle, in broad daylight, at various points around their homestead. Some bodies were found in the house, some in the barn, some in the yard. He lived on grubs as a fugitive for several months, and was eventually found in a woods in Kentucky and put in jail. A surviving brother still occupies the home where the murders took place.

Passing the property always elicits a creepy feeling, especially on an overcast morning when not another soul is on the road. I wonder about the surviving brother, walking around in the presence of such ghosts. He keeps the blinds on the front of the house closed tight at all times because his house is a well-known point of interest. Even so many years later, his life takes place in the rear of the home.

I’ve been in a dark mood lately, oppressed perhaps. And contemplating the thin line between sanity and insanity, trying to make sense of how a child could lose it and open fire on his brothers, sisters and parents, brought all of my motherly fears to a crest. What did that mother think, as she looked down the barrel of a rifle her child pointed at her? What sadness, probably not for her own life, but for his, and for his survivors. And your heart, also, a sword shall pierce.

If it's possible for a family to end in such a fashion, why bother?

At that moment on my run the sky opened up and rain fell in sheets. I don’t remember the last time I was caught outside in a rainstorm. But if I needed, right then, to experience the Sacramental everyday, God gave me a Baptism that could wash away even the most incomprehensible sins. Within minutes I was soaked down to my underclothes, and had to hold my pants up as the water increased its gravitational pull. My darkness and worry turned instantly to exhilaration.

It sounds almost too cute that my spiritual relief could occur at the precise moment that the weather delivered on its threat in such a location. Who am I that God would make it rain because I needed it to rain right then and there? And does the rain do anything for that family-- the brother on the other side of those closed blinds?

But it did rain, and I want to think that God was telling me I had no need to make the acquaintance of despair. If the presence of evil in this world seems too large a threat to face, the rain says that God, when called upon, can conquer it with the slightest effort. Even if we can't see through to the other side of the storm.

So I ran on home, puddle jumping and feeling so gleeful that when an old farmer in his pick-up pulled up and said, “Need a lift?” I said, “No thanks. I feel great!” Not sure why I needed to inform the farmer of my mood in order to decline his ride. He shrugged his shoulders to say, “Suit yourself,” and drove on. And I wanted to call him back and say, “No, really, don’t take it personally. I don’t think you’re a weirdo for offering me a ride. I’m not afraid of this world. I’m just too happy to come in from the rain.”


Misha Leigh. said...

This. This is profound and beautiful and wonderful and giddy and so vital for me to hear - thank you.

Trish Bailey de Arceo said...

Wow... I know I've said this about a hundred times, but I really enjoy your posts!

Erin said...

This is adorable! God always knows when to speak to us... and just how to do it successfully.

Agnes Regina said...

This is absolutely beautiful. And I love rain... watching storms, or getting caught in one on my bike and being soaked when I get home. It's such a great feeling.