Friday, July 2, 2010

Run in the Rain

Hurricane "Alex" is primarily south of Houston. In fact, its major presence has been felt where Texas and Mexico share a border. Nevertheless, its influence on the weather extends quite a distance out from its "Eye." As a result, the long reach of this storm has even given Houston a considerable amount of precipitation for a few days (I cannot speak to whether it is more than normal, but the recent downpour has certainly been attributed to the reach of "Alex."). For us, rain is always welcome. There is no tendency in this family to peer out the window and lament that all the fun has been "rained out." No Cat in the Hat will be visiting to cause trouble indoors. There simply is no need to entertain bored people cooped up inside while the water cascades in sheets outside... for we'll likely be out in it anyway.

Water is our "family symbol." This legacy began with my father, Ron Ott, who is a renowned water engineer. Growing up, I always heard about his work developing hydroelectric projects, water collection and diversion systems or water quality and cleanup studies. He was the kind of man that didn't "bring work home" per se, but exposed us so successfully to his profession that we all took pride in his work. I remember wanting to learn the names of various turbine types and the hydrodynamic processes that made water behave this or that way. Water became something we all appreciated and knew about. What's more? We lived on the shore of the Sacramento River. I'd watch its high flow periods, ask about its flood stages and respect its currents. Each summer we spent a week vacation on a houseboat on Lake Shasta, water skiing and swimming from dawn to dusk. Heavy storms were an opportunity to listen intently to the rain beating its excited drum beat on the roof, or check local culverts for unobstructed flow. Water was so heavily integrated into our "family culture" that the logo for my father's engineering firm came to represent more than just his business - it was almost our family crest.

Later on, as I became increasingly aware of the biblical use of water as an analogy for the power, influence and movement of the Holy Spirit, that same family legacy took on spiritual significance. Water was no longer just the family business. It was a means of meditating on God, life and the truths that shape one's thinking. Water facilitates reflection on life, lessons of particular importance and connection to creation for living it out. Water provides a connection to the Earth. It refreshes the land, provides homes for fish and animals, sustains human life and cleanses the landscape. To be surrounded by water is to be surrounded by life. Even at sea, when the water cannot be consumed, it's still teaming with life and creatures of wondrous variety. Streams and tributaries are the arteries of the land. Mountains, valleys, canyons and plains all shape themselves in connection with water.

For these reasons, heavy rain is by no means a deterrent from going outside. On the contrary, it "calls" to me. I hadn't run my normal route in a few days and desired a good jog. The "curtains" of rain outside made it seem like a perfect time to go. Donning my jogging shoes, I left the garage and felt the beads strike my face. It didn't take long before the clothes were drenched, so there was no need to worry about that anymore. One hundred yards into the two mile run I realized that I was a truly loving the whole experience. The iPod remained at home, so only the sounds of the rain served as the "soundtrack" to my exercise. The arms and legs felt every drop striking with exhilarating force. Sheets of water pelted my face, daring me to keep my head up and peering down the road instead of staring down at my feet. Occasional winds moved the water to horizontally hit me from a different angle altogether. The roar of the downpour and the swirling blasts collected into a stereophonic challenge to my resolved, and seemed to yell, "This is too difficult and too uncomfortable for you. You should just walk back to the house now and dry off. This is crazy for you to be out running in this. It can't possibly be enjoyable." In response to the challenge I just smiled wider and plowed ahead.

Being engulfed in the elements of the storm, with the rain beating down upon me, I felt so very much alive. To be physically enveloped in the very legacy of the family and the analogy of the Spirit, all the while feeling the resistance of weather, drove me to glory in the harshness of the environment. "Bring it on!" I screamed in my head. It seemed like such a natural setting - being so intensely resisted by the elements, yet simultaneously being "at home." A powerful and mystical combination, to be sure. The entire moment seemed analogous to other pursuits in life as well, being both unaccommodating and inviting at the same time. In any of those moments I will certainly hearken back to my exhilarating run in the rain, and how marvelous it felt to press on in the face of such meteorological "protest." After all, whatever the clouds sought to throw at me only heightened the sense of legacy, tenacity and destiny. I suspect, because of how therapeutic this was today, I'll likely run in the rain more in the future. I'm sure I'll need it.

1 comment:

Amber said...

Love it! Couldn't agree more! It's nice to see someone else understands the affect water can have on a person emotionally and psychologically. While water wasn't part of my father's career, he did teach me to love the water and I spent years and years of my childhood in it and on it and surrounded by it. I love that you're able to put down in words exactly how significant water has been in your life. Makes me want to go for a swim! :) Thanks Aaron.