I once heard a visitor to New Zealand say that New Zealanders always seem to be talking about the weather. It’s not true of course, we don’t always talk about weather, but many of our conversations do begin with a weather comment.
Several people from home have emailed in the last few days with comments about the NZ weather this week. My sister emailed also with news about the weather. She added that almost every letter or email from our dad, Con (and he wrote regularly) would comment on the weather.
Kathryn added that perhaps this was because for a man raised on the land, and whose work was affected daily by the weather, whether the weather was wet or dry, cold or hot, was important. Con knew that people’s livelihoods could flourish or fail because of the weather.
I recall returning to Greymouth some ten years after I served there as a priest. I visited friends, John and Cora. John reminded me that I had once given a homily on the gospel passage ‘God causes the rain to fall on the rich and poor, and the sun to shine on the just and the unjust …’ (Matthew 5:45).
John said that since since that homily he had seen the rain (and on the Coast they had a lot of it) in a different light. Before the homily, rain was the thing that stopped us doing what we wanted to do, mostly busyness and activity. John reminded me that I had invited people to consider the rain as a gift. Apart from nourishing the unique Coast rainforest environment, the rain, especially at a weekend, might just be God saying, sit inside. Relax. Put your feet up. I love you even when you are doing nothing! Rain is an invitation to savour some sabbath rest – even on a Tuesday.
I’m not sure how God copes with our prayers about the weather. The farmers pray for rain, the school wants sun. What is the All-mighty to do? Perhaps God could have devised a system of rain at night (at least a little) and sun every day?
Or might it be that God is trying to remind us that we humans are not in control of the big things at all! Our only intelligent alternative is to relax and to accept what God gives us.
Logic and reason tell us that there is little to be gained from fighting that which we have no control over. The human person is not separate from the world (both past and present). There are many objective factors that (according to divine design) have a significant influence of each moment of every life. Many of these factors are good or at least morally neutral and the healthy person does not fight for immunity from these influences. Other factors are not good. These infections we reject.
I thought more about this last night reading Pope Benedict’s words to the Italian Bishops this morning. He was commenting on the challenges facing education. Among many other points he said:
One main root is, it seems to me, a false concept of human autonomy,” the Holy Father said. This concept calls for man to develop himself by and for himself, “without impositions from others, who can assist in his self-development, but who cannot enter into the process.”
This concept is erroneous, the Pontiff explained, because man’s self is defined in relation to others. “It is created for dialogue and for communion,” he said.
“Only the encounter with the ‘you’ and with the ‘we’ opens the ‘I’ to himself,” the Pope said. “That’s why so-called anti-authoritarian education is not education but rather a rejection of education.”
“So a first point seems to me to be this one,” he stated, “to overcome this false idea of man’s autonomy as an ‘I’ complete in itself.“
Last week in Rome it rained. This week the sun is shining. Next week I will probably be complaining about the heat. In the South Island it is too wet and a bit too cold. The wise among us will just relax, and seek (rain or shine) to live fully in whatever weather God sends.