“Should I plan on bringing an umbrella?”
I confess that the question caught me unexpectedly. This was the first trip for a friend to Singapore. We were planning on catching up later that evening. His flight landing synced up with the building storm clouds. The likelihood of a intense tropical storm was obviously high.
“Have you ever experienced a tropical rainstorm?”
“No, this is my first trip to Singapore and to the tropics.”
“Ah, with this bit of new information I understand how your question makes sense.”
I went on to explain that in a tropical rainstorm it is as if a bucket was being poured from heaven. Very big raindrops and a lot of them! An unending deluge that even when it ends the humidity tells you that it is still raining. It is an event that dictates one does not walk more than a single step without being totally, completely, and thoroughly drenched.
“In short, yes, bringing an umbrella is a very good idea. One warning, having it does not mean that you will not get very wet anyways.”
My initial reaction as I put down the telephone was one of disbelief. How could one not know? Even as my criticism grew, I realized that pictures and video of tropical storms remind you of an experience, yet they do not really convey how wet it really is. Words are helpful, but limited. Nothing is the same as being in the storm, taking it in through all the senses.
My patience grew as I reflected on the stories I had heard using rain as a metaphor. Did I appreciate what they were trying to say? Was I a first time visitor or one hearing it with the insight that comes from experience?
As my mind drifted to a writer’s words, “Drench the plowed fields, soak the dirt clods, with rainfall as harrow and rake bring her to blossom and fruit,” (Psalm 65.10) thunder rolled and the heavens opened around me. I was not watching; I was being consumed. I was not hearing; I was living.