Expect Rain

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “Into each life some rain must fall.” Must is the key word in this simple phrase. If some rain must fall into each life, sometime, the most prudent approach is to be prepared.

The word “pre-pare,” originating around 1525 AD, is from the Latin praeparāre, means to make ready beforehand. “Be Prepared” has been the Boy Scout motto since 1907. The Girl Scouts adopted it a few years later. And it’s quite similar to the motto of the U.S. Coast Guard: “Semper Paratus” (Always Ready).

If recent history reveals anything, however, “Be Prepared” has NOT yet become the motto of many inhabitants of the USA. Instead, most folks seem to expect sunshine day-by-day, but if it does rain, FEMA will be right there holding their umbrella.

While we live in a nation that has such programs to fall back on in time of need, it’s still a good idea to prepare yourself just in case FEMA can’t be there right when you need them the most.

Physical preparedness: Any farmer will tell you that one of the biggest reasons they have barns is so they can store up enough hay to get them through the cold winter months that they “know” is coming. Likewise, with rainy days, making ready beforehand implies that we should expect rain, not be surprised by it. Of course, most advice about “disaster preparedness” is focused primarily on survival supplies and strategies. The recent plethora of natural disasters has fueled the sales of backpack-based self-contained portable survival kits, but you can make your own by following the suggestions offered by the American Red Cross at: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit. While the sun is shining is a good time to take care of this, don’t you think?

While physical survival is obviously goal number one when a disaster happens, I’d like to suggest a few other issues to consider, most of them not backpack stuffable:

Relational preparedness: Everyone in the circle of family or friends with whose lives yours is intertwined must know that when disaster strikes, you will face it together. “If we face it together, we can make it together” will be our motto. There will be times when everyone has something they can do to help.

Emotional preparedness: In addition to natural disasters, the storms of life can include such crises as illness or accidents, financial hardship, legal issues, loss of a loved one, or even the loss of a beloved pet. What happens may take you by surprise; or it may grind you down slowly. Either way, it can feel like a cold, hard, unrelenting rain that will never end. But it will. As Longfellow wrote earlier in the poem quoted above, “Be still, sad heart, and cease repining; behind the clouds is the sun still shining.”

Spiritual preparedness: The poet’s point is – let what you know control how you feel. This is the basis of true hope. False hope is belief placed in something or someone unworthy of trust, a mistake that may only become apparent when the word “but” intervenes. For example, suppose you have built your home in a flood plain because you believe the levee constructed and certified by the Army Corps of Engineers will keep the river out; but…

People of various faith persuasions sometimes find encouragement in the words of their religious poets. One of those, the Old Testament King David, described how his own hope was renewed: “Why are you downcast, O my soul, Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” For those who believe there is a God, this is the best suggestion of all.

David B. Biebel, DMin

Editor in Chief