“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”
-John Henry Jowett
“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!”
Rainy season is upon us in Haiti. Whereas nothing else here seems to run on schedule, the rain appears to have a tight itinerary that it refuses to deviate from. Similar to a friend that only ever has time to “drop-by”, the rain arrives and then flees the scene all within the span of an hour or two. The presence of rain has always been an annoyance to me. Rain both deters and determines your plans, and to me, that is a terribly frustrating circumstance. However, and at the risk of sounding disgustingly cliché, I’ve learned to both embrace and enjoy that which I cannot control.
It gets unusually quite around here before and after a drenching. The hustle of the city ceases and the routinely animated Grace Village is placed on pause. Children are typically the first to trickle out of their houses after a rain; immediately they gravitate to the newly formed puddles. Recently, I was talking to one of the kids after a brief downpour and asked if he also disliked the rain. “Non, mwen dòmi bon apre lapli tonbe“(No, I sleep good after the rain falls) he replied, seemingly slightly indignant that I would phrase the question in such a manner. The ironic thing is I have said the same thing before, even multiple times, and just never thought to be thankful for it. After it rains the dust is subdued, the temperature drops, and I sleep like I just polished off a bottle of Benadryl. The noise that rain sometimes creates (a change of plans, an uptick in mosquitos, wet clothes) was overshadowing the joys and nourishment rain brings both the earth and myself.
Their is a Haitian proverb that states “sonje lapli ki leve mayi ou” – Remember the rain that made your corn grow. What a great reminder to practice thankfulness. That proverb got me thinking what it meant to be truly thankful, and all that I have in my life to be thankful for. I started recognizing and realizing the bounty of things I have to be thankful for; things beyond the material and tangible world. I have old and new relationships that I treasure so deeply now, old and new knowledge being cultivated in my mind, and a heart thats constantly being refined. I am over joyed that I have a God that keeps me on my toes and loves me unconditionally. While I’m pouting about cancelled plans that the rain has brought about, that same rain is growing food for those I love in this country as well as for myself. That inconvenient hour of being confined to my perfectly comfortable living quarters is spent creating an atmosphere that will lull me to sleep and bless me with much needed rest in just a couple of hours.
Our lives are messy rainstorms filled with highs and lows, shortcuts and dead ends, victories and defeat. The “noisy” parts of rain and life are there to refine our character and remind us that living a thankful life is infectious and exciting. God is good and we should be proclaiming and giving thanksgiving for what He has given us. How we navigate and react to the rainstorm of life not only affects us but those around us as well. After all, had that young boy not shared with me why he is thankful for the rain, I’d be sitting here dreading the brewing rainstorm instead of being excited for market vegetables and boasting tomorrow morning about how I slept like a baby.
“Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks”