Pink Water Lilies, Rain and Sorrow
Needed rain brought perky flowers, glistening trees and cleaned the decorative rock in our yard like sparkling new after the storms. The community park in our small country town sits adjacent to the byway where we can glance into the pond and watch the water lilies float as we drive by. The pink ones beg attention as they show off their beauty; I had to pull in, park my car and grab my cell. A thin gal with long blonde hair wearing a summer flowered maxi dress joined me and sat on the bench to drink in the winsomeness. She broke our silent meditation with “Look at the pink ones! I never saw them before and had to stop!”
I listened to the pretty lady and learned her accent, a Scottish brogue, brought her here from Scotland more than a decade ago. My mind envisioned bright greens and countryside, but I learned this Scottish lass was a city girl and not the country girl I imagined. She seemed surprised such a beautifully landscaped park with water lilies could be found in our simple country town with its plain structures and horses, lots of horses.
I did not tell her I migrated here thirty years ago to raise my children in strong family values of small town living rather than in Chicago amidst the fast-paced lifestyle. I did not tell her some of us are country hicks by choice with deep aesthetic roots.
We both got into our cars and drove off, her to her job in the city and me the homestead with a pile of mail I picked up in town to sort through and pay bills.
It’s interesting how our different lifestyles meet and touch each other. My adjustment to country living came slow and painful. No more museums to educate myself and now clothing from department stores instead of malls.
Far from perfect, we deal with hot temperatures and brush fires in early summer. When it rains, it pours! One of the first warnings I received when my kids were small came from other parents who would not let their children play in dry washes. Rain pours from the mountains and fills them quickly so respect this boundary and keep the kids safe.
Small town friendly living might threaten city dwellers which prefer anonymity. I learned from the brush fires last June about concerned neighbors in our small town who rescued pets and cattle during the call to evacuate. More recently, in fact just last weekend alerts on our phones warned of impending flash floods. We never know if the heavy rains will visit us or just linger in the mountains that surround us; usually it’s the latter. Hard rain came and washed out a few properties, and unfortunately took one life.
A sixteen year old girl called 911 when her car stalled in a wash area of about two feet. It rained hard and heavy that Saturday night. By the time the emergency crew arrived, the wash rose to eight feet so the girl climbed atop her car to avoid drowning. The crew tried but could not get to her in time without endangering themselves. The swift water pulled her off and down the fast moving wash. Four days passed before her body appeared in the river.
Phoenix News stations visited our town during the search while local residents helped with hundreds of professional search and rescue teams from surrounding towns. Many news watchers joined us to pray for the family of this sweet girl. A beautiful prayer vigil of townspeople met to comfort family and friends in the baseball field where the girl played on her high school team.
For days I prayed and asked the Lord to be glorified in this tragedy. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine how He could. But then this morning as I joined once again with my husband to pray, the answer came. The answer came when I began to thank God for all the love and prayers I witnessed. I thanked Him, too, for all the townspeople who offered to cook for the family, to clean their homes, to run their errands, to hold them tight and encourage them as well as those who carried their burden in prayer. Many business people organized food and drinks in a park to feed volunteers and keep them hydrated in the hot sun. Social media dominated the news feeds with loving sentiments and I cried when I read beautifully crafted words, Scripture and even pictures drawn from the heart to offer as a gift to uplift.
Once again, I saw a community of loving people come together from different backgrounds, from different faiths and churches, many who rub elbows with this family in our small town in the workplace, in church, in community events as well as strangers who just know the devastation of what another parent feels.
And that brings Almighty God glory.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24