The first two weeks of June are historically rainy in my area. This year is following tradition with showers popping up in the early morning, mid-afternoon, or evening hours almost every day. The weather forecast is calling for cloudy skies up until the weekend, so I am not sure if we will get to see the full moon on June 9.
June’s full moon is known as the Full Strawberry Moon, named by the Algonquin Indian tribe to signal the start of ripening strawberries. Tribes in Europe called it the Full Rose Moon, and it is also known as the Hay Moon since hay harvesting often starts this time of year.
Though I don’t particularly care for the gray skies that come along with the rains, I don’t mind the sound of a gentle rain or running and biking in the rain when the temperature is warm. Something about listening to the low drumming sound of a gentle rain on the roof or pedaling along to the rhythm of the rain makes me feel at peace, even if the world around me is far from tranquil.
When the raindrops fall and hit an object, part of the energy from the motion of the fall is absorbed by the object and part is converted to vibrations that create sound waves.
Sound waves are unique because they are:
- Mechanical, which means they can travel through a medium such as air or water, but cannot travel through a vacuum.
- Longitudinal, which means the disturbance created by the vibration travels in the same direction as the wave.
- Pressure waves, which means they have compressions and rarefactions, or high and low pressures within the wave.
The amplitude of a sound wave is determined by the peak of the compressions or rarefactions. The amplitude, along with the frequency or speed of the vibration, determines auditability, or loudness, of the sound.
The amplitude of a gentle falling rain is lower and is interpreted by the brain as a non-threatening sound. This is why the sound of rain can be so relaxing to some people.
Rainy Day Memories
Growing up, I distinctly remember trying to help my grandmother mow grass in between the downpours of the first weeks of June. Gram was never one for patience or nature’s sudden changes, so the rains made her rather cranky. By coincidence, the Three Rivers Arts Festival always occurred during the rainy spell. The festival drew many people to the city of Pittsburgh, which is about 20 miles away from our rural home.
The television news Gram watched at noon and in the evenings had daily stories about the festival artists and events. Gram used to blame the festival for all the rain, “The arts festival is in town. We’ll have showers and thunderstorms every day until it leaves.” (I can’t repeat the rest of what she would say, as it usually contained more than a few swear words).
Back then, we did not have all the toys and conveniences of today’s world, so Gram sometimes had her hands full keeping my sister and me busy when we visited (which was pretty much every day since we lived just a field away and took a daily walk through the field to see what Gram was doing). However, Gram did her best, playing cards or supervising while we built Legos on the kitchen table. We also helped her clean out cupboards, do dishes, vacuum, and wash clothes.
As we went about the chores, Gram told us stories of her childhood spent growing up with eleven siblings on a farm. The stories always fascinated my sister and me, no matter how many times we heard them. We learned about our Croatian heritage, how our great-grandparents immigrated from Yugoslavia to the United States, and what Gram and my grandfather (who passed away very young, well before I was born) went through in their first years of marriage. In hindsight, we had quality time well before the concept was made popular, and this quality time was usually made possible by the rain. God was at work in our lives way back then, and we did not even know it.
Adventures in Automobiles
Gram usually became antsy by the third day of rain (as did my sister and I), so she would take us to visit our great aunts (Gram’s sisters or sisters-in-laws) or other relatives. We piled into Gram’s old four-door, brown Plymouth and off we went, windshield wipers and raindrops flying in the wind as the whitewall tires sped through the bends and hills along the way. Gram knew all the good back roads and side streets to make the trip more adventurous. Occasionally, we’d have to detour due to summer road construction, which allowed us to learn more roads, streets, and routes (and a few new swear words).
Sometimes, Gram would turn on the AM radio, but most times she told stories about different sights along the way, explaining how some farms came to be, where certain roads or stores got their names, or what used to be in a particular location.
I don’t remember thinking much about God back then, but I do remember Gram having a St. Christopher medal hanging from the rear view mirror. One day, I asked her about the medal. Gram explained that the medal was for protection, and that St. Christopher watches over all travelers, no matter how far they are going. Though Gram was not the most religious person in the world, she sure did believe in the power of St. Christopher and kept a medal in her car until she was no longer able to drive.
The popularity of the St. Christopher medals faded by the time I got my driver’s license. However, Gram bought me a guardian angel pin that I kept in the sun visor of my vehicle for extra protection. By then, I knew more about God and that I did not necessarily need an object to remind me of His or any of the saints’ powers. However, I do admit that at times I found myself searching for reassurance, something physical to act as a compass or a guide along the way.
This past Sunday, I went to see one of my great aunts, the only living sibling left from Gram’s family. On the way, I encountered a detour that put me on streets and roads I had not traveled since I was a teenager. The experience brought back memories of Gram driving my sister and me on our adventures. Though I was proud of myself for remembering part of the alternate route, I was a bit nervous, especially since the weather forecast called for rain and I really needed to get back home to try to cut the grass before the showers fell.
But It’s Right There!
As I cautiously navigated along the route, I found myself praying very hard, straining to remember landmarks, and trying to keep calm. When I did spot something that jarred a memory, I felt a calmness settle over me, as if God was saying, “It will be fine. You will get to where you need to be.”
Of course, I worried His interpretation of my destination might not align with my interpretation. My inner compass told me to focus and try to remember as best I could, and I could see my great aunt’s house, which reassured me. At one point, I did have to call my great aunt for verification of a turn, and we both laughed about me being able to see her house, but not being able to get to the street in front of it.
How often in life do we see what we are seeking, yet can’t grasp it? My driving experience reminded me of the following quote:
“The search for God is like riding an ox hunting for the ox.” – Buddhist proverb
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
As I ran and pedaled my bike this week, I found myself looking at my surroundings full of nature’s finest offerings. Intricate spiky leaves of thistle, water pooled in the leaves of a wildfowe, puffy clouds in the sky, the appearance of the sun in between rain showers, and a rabbit nibbling grass by the roadside all caught my attention and reminded me that God is right there, right in front, behind, and beside me no matter where I go. Whether lost or found, He is with us, waiting for us to ask for His help, thank Him for the blessings He provides, or simply acknowledge that we sense His presence.
I stopped several times while pedaling my bike to take pictures of what I saw, though I really just wanted to ride fast and get back home to do my growing list of chores. At each stop, my heart and mind argued: You really need to get back home. I know, but I also need time to regroup and recharge. You will be sorry later when you don’t get your list done. True, but it ALL needs done, and sometimes the order is important, but other times, it is the end result that matters most, not the steps taken to get there.
To me, the rain is God’s way of cleansing my mind, body, and soul. Sometimes I wrestle with the gymnastics the rain causes in my life, and other times, I realize it is just God’s way of steering me along upon the journey.
May the sound of the rain be music to our ears, allowing us to find harmony in life. May the rain wash us clean inside and out, and allow us to see what matters most in life.
Most in Life
Green, green growth upon the pine trees
By the side of the road in the breeze,
Old magnolia standing twisted and high
With large leaves holding flowers white,
Puffy clouds in the distance
Reflecting the sun’s light without resistance,
Morning dew upon the grass
Sparkling new like glass,
As the river of time flows beneath the sky
Full of moments to reflect upon what matters most in life.
Twisting curly cues amidst the grape leaves
Winding in pursuit of the sun’s beams,
Little rabbit in the grass hopping along
Under a sky scattered with the rain’s song,
Freshly plowed fields dark and brown
Emitting the deep aroma of the ground,
After the rains have passed on by
Offering a reflection of what matters most in life.
Sunrise after the rain,
Shining bright to meet the day,
Sunset before a storm
Glowing red with the love of the Lord,
The strong smell of honeysuckle in the air
Permeating along and about everywhere,
Tree frogs and crickets calling at dusk
With songs of nature’s wonder lust,
As the minutes go passing by
Teeming with examples of what matters most in life.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Full Strawberry Moon – http://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-june-2017
Non-threatening sound – https://www.livescience.com/53403-why-sound-of-water-helps-you-sleep.html
St. Christopher – http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=36
Three Rivers Arts Festival – http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/04/25/three-rivers-arts-festival-schedule/