Summer Rain

???????????????????????????????Ah, the cleansing, satisfying, cooling rain of summer…how sweet it is. Today is Sunday and it is afternoon. The rain started about two hours ago and has fallen steadily, uniformly and with confidence. The air is pure, the sky is beginning to clear and the dripping of rain water from tree leaves is occurring as I write.

My words are simply thoughts of appreciation and of wonder. No rain equals no life; it is as simple as that. In the fertile land I call home we have been blessed with an abundance of rain at just the right time and in the right amounts to sustain a healthy and green environment. The past three years we experienced serious drought-like conditions so this regular rainfall has been wonderful. Crops grow plentiful and lakes and ponds are full.

I sealed my deck with a stain-sealer liquid yesterday…before the rains came. Now I watch the water bead upon the planks of flooring and railings and marvel at the molecular structure of water and how it can form islands of liquid that will move when on an incline or create drops which fall to the ground with a pitter-patter that is so soothing. Currents of rain water flow across many streets and our rain barrel overflows. My heart overflows, as well, because of this blessing.

Rain is not a respecter of geography, tribe, skin color or religion. As we know, some areas of the earth receive more rain than they can accommodate while others receive barely a few inches an entire year. The Bible says that rain is not a respecter of persons, as it falls among the just as well as the unjust. I am both at varying times, and am most grateful for every ounce of this precious liquid from which I benefit greatly.

Tomorrow, the creeks and rivers will be moving at a fast pace, carrying with them rubbish that has accumulated but had no way of being relocated except for rain water, and lots of it. I have rubbish that accumulates within my heart and needs to be flushed away from time-to-time. Rain reminds me of this simple fact. As I receive the much-needed water from the sky, so I receive the much-needed Living Water from Heaven. I love the rain…every last drop of it. I hope you do, too. As you receive this living water, please do so with joy!

MARK-ING ST. PATRICK’S DAY

DSC00738Whenever I think about St. Patrick’s Day, my mind immediately goes to an old friend of mine. His name is Mark Manning…Irish through and through. My friend in not physically with us anymore. He left us almost three years ago. It doesn’t seem that it’s been that long, though.

Occasionally, we are blessed to cross paths with a truly remarkable person. Mark was this and so much more. I could easily lavish a plethora of positive adjectives concerning this unique and gifted man. However, I will share only a couple of his most endearing qualities. I almost failed to mention that Mark was a quadriplegic, an accomplished artist, history teacher, and faithful servant of Christ.

Mark entered my life, or I should say we crossed paths, while attending the same church many years ago. One of my fondest memories is when he invited me and Cheryl to attend his family’s St. Patrick’s Day gathering. This was an honor, and a rather large gathering, too. The Manning clan is numerous and knows how to throw a good St. Pats party! Mark’s brothers, sisters and mom are the most welcoming group of people I have come across. Mark stood out among them all. He engaged us from the moment he noticed we were at the clubhouse. He made us feel comfortable, and talked to us like we were old friends. Not many people have this ability.

One of the qualities I want to share about Mark was his unassuming, and humble personality. Although he sat in a wheelchair, he was the tallest person everywhere he went. He reached out to others and made them feel special. He always asked how one was getting along in life, and he meant it. He would encourage. He would teach without you even knowing it. He would point you in the right direction, and encourage you. I never walked away from spending time with Mark saddened because he was crippled physically. Instead, I always left him a better person than when I greeted him. Amazing how he had that effect on everyone.

Mark was an inspiration. He accomplished more than most, and without the use of his legs and only with very little function of his arms and hands. As I mentioned, he was an excellent artist who used the medium of watercolors to express his inward poetry. Mark created an annual  community outdoor art exhibit which was sponsored by his city and local businesses, and which received much recognition. He majored in art history and shared his passion with others. He became a Christian and was responsible for leading his family and many friends to the Source of his strength.

For those of you who know the difficulties of paralysis, Mark handled this disability with strength and grace. He was forced to rely upon the aid of others to perform even the most mundane personal tasks, yet he  maintained his dignity. Finding reliable and good care was always a challenge, but he never complained about that. In fact, I don’t ever recall Mark complaining about anything! Being around him was refreshing.

Mark was a great listener, and offered wise counsel, but not too much of it. He was insightful and could be firm when necessary, but was gentle by choice. I miss him. I miss his smiling face and kindness. I miss his advice. I miss our fellowship. However, I don’t miss his physical handicap, and am so looking forward to seeing my friend run and jump and walk when I reach my final destination. I am confident that Mark will be among many who will greet me. What a day that will be!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Mark.