Rain in the Desert

When we first moved to Arizona we had a lot of dust storms. It was a very dry year and the dust threatened to swirl up around our faces, and our hearts, regularly. It felt synonymous with where we were at in our own journey. Dry, confused, swirling. This year has been different. This year there has been a lot of rain in the desert.

There's lots of interesting things about rain in the desert. It's not like rain in other places. It doesn't come very often, but when it does it comes with intention. Hard. Heavy. Fast. A flood of nourishment.

Where the ground is ready to receive, quick growing prairie grasses will sprout after rains. They are short lived growth, but beautiful in their own way. They don't last long, but they still serve their purpose as food for wildlife, food for longer lasting dreams.

Most of the growth that comes from the rains in the desert is small and slow. The plants here respond to rain differently then plants in other landscapes. They draw it in and hold on to it. They suck it up in to their core and store it away for when they need it. Even when there is lots of rain in the desert they don't forget that they are still in a desert.

Again this has felt so synonymous with my heart and the season I have been walking.

In the past year we had lots of rain in the desert. We had eight months of good test results from Bryan. We had visits with friends and family that were really filling. I had dreams quickly come into fruition. We had sweet moments together as a family.

And especially at the end of December and beginning of January I had the presence of God heavily surround.

I think there are seasons to our walk with God. Seasons where it is easy to feel him, where scripture and everything else as well seem alive with presence, where prayer feels like breathing, where it just feels right and filling to follow him.

And then there are seasons when he is very quiet. Seasons where there is no nourishment from the heavens, no rain in the desert, just parched thirst. And in those seasons we are asked to keep putting one foot in front of the other and follow anyway.

Not long ago I was driving alone at night, a rare occurrence, and it was raining. My heart felt flooded with gratitude for the ways God had been filling me up, the ways he had been so present lately, for the ways he has been nourishing my heart. I felt flooded with gratitude for the life that I live - it's not the easiest life, but it's good, and there's a lot of stability in it, despite the unstable. I wouldn't trade it.

And then as I watched the windshield wipers pick up the drops of water and fling them away God brought to mind the cactus. How it holds on to the rains and doesn't let go.

How can I do that? How can I cling to and remember this feeling of fullness, this nourishment, this gratitude, even once it isn't pouring down all around me.

Because the truth is I live in a desert. I live in a hard place. A dry place. A place that doesn't often see lots of rain.

But I am also constantly being nourished. And what I receive I need to hold on to, remember, store up, because there are more barren days coming.

Even this week the rains have stopped. I came down with a very bad case of the flu, Bryan's tumor in his leg grew to the point of causing him intense pain. It's been a dry and weary week. But I'm trying to hold that rain in my heart. Trying to remember the hope I started the year with.

That's my word for this year: hope. Brave Hope. It feels like a hard thing to hold on to right now, a fleeting, fragile thing - hope. But, I'm clinging to it, holding it close, deep within... like a cactus holding on to the rain.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany

MelanomaBethany Stedman