We had rain on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Friday was just a quick sprinkle, but Saturday was a genuine summer downpour, complete with wind and thunder. Typically, I hate storms, but, given the fact that this storm allowed me to see the first true rain since we touched down nearly a month ago, I was willing the clouds I saw gathering over the fields to make their way to us. And they most certainly did.
Until the storm arrived and the air and sky start to shift and swirl, I didn’t realize how much I missed simple changes in color or light. All the buildings here on base are yellow, the baking sunlight is yellow, and the haziness in the air gives any object in the distance a yellow glow. But, at around 4pm on Saturday, we were treated to this:
And, later, this:
Such a simple event, but I felt as though my eyes have been as thirsty for water as the grass.
Speaking of simple pleasures, I’ve also been thinking about other types of simplicity a lot lately. Did you know that the chapel is likely the nicest building on base? (Don’t worry, this’ll all come back around in a bit…) In fact, chapel-related activities are so tightly woven into the fabric of social and family life around here that the required Newcomers Briefing (which we attended a few weeks ago) ends with a scheduled lunch in some type of fellowship hall, where, after a long morning of meetings and lectures, we are dropped off by bus around 1pm expecting a quick bite to eat. Instead, we are directed to take a seat, treated to a detailed description of all chapel services and activities, and then asked to say a Christian prayer over our food before being released to head up to the buffet. (Did I miss a memo while we were crossing the Atlantic, or something? Did the military somehow expand “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to include religious affiliation, as well??)
In any case, my discomfort and indignation at this awkward situation aside, it did alert my radar and get the over-worked hamster in my brain a-spinning. I now look around at these young families with their vibrant children zipping through the cooler evenings of “Pleasantville’s” neighborhood streets, and I try to imagine their reactions to the smiling church ladies and the Christian rock coming from the cd player at the back of the room. Did they feel relief? Comfort? A matter-of-fact sense of expectation? Instead of raising their hackles, I’m sure that, at the very least, they saw it as no more than a simple lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs.
While I personally feel no sense of faith of my own, I do envy the comfort it brings people as well as the little ways that it simplifies life. A small glimmer of clarity and a sense of a grander purpose must surely alter the feeling of a day just as much as the droplets of rain left behind by brief summer storm. Sometimes, I wish I could be so refreshed by something showered from above. But, alas, my hamster just flat-out won’t do the mental gymnastics that such beliefs would require. My closest brushes with any feelings of spirituality come entirely from actions or the tangible world: dancing, making music, connecting with people… But, in the absence of some of those things, I do sometimes wonder just how simply refreshing it would be to have a back-up.