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Walking in the Rain, Singing Songs on the Way …

A miracle happened in California this week. It began to rain and it continued off and on for several days. In fact rain was still falling as I wrote this. We didn’t care that some days there was only drizzle, or that moisture-laden clouds stalled at the Berkeley Hills, leaving just the smell of rain in the air. The aromas of a renewed, rehydrated earth caused much rejoicing. Folks in the northeast, drowned in precipitation in all its forms, including frozen icy ones, probably think we’re daft. But for Californians who watched reservoirs drop to the bottom, and saw the rise of old drowned ghost towns lost for years like Mormon Island at Folsom Lake, tree stumps suddenly emerging like apparitions from an ancient past at Lake Isabella, we experienced a real fear of running out of water.

Beatles wait for rain relief
Beatles wait for rain relief
Cattle in pasture

Do you ever sing while you walk in the park in the rain? I’m like Gene Kelly, “Singing in the Rain,” except I’m not as good a dancer. On a walk between the raindrops this week, nourished spiritually while Earth received heaven’s blessing, the words of a song that I’ve known for decades (actually much older, written in 1912) came back to me. It was “In the Garden,” and for the first time, the meaning of the words truly came alive for me. The lyric described the experience I was having here in 2014, over a century since it was written. I too had a very strong sense that he “walks with me, and he talks with me, and tells me I am his own.”

In the Garden (Words: Charles Austin Miles, 1912)‎

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

Contemplating the steps I must take on the path of life, consulting with my spirit helpers, I thought of another very different song, one my father may have sung. It contained his memories of suffering through the war (WWII) and the Great Depression, and voiced his disinclination to believe in God: Dad’s advice to me was, “You’ve got to walk that lonesome valley …” Lonesome Valley, in reality probably a traditional folk song first recorded in 1927, was actually claimed (copyrighted) by Woody Guthrie as his own composition later on.

“You gotta walk that lonesome valley, and you gotta walk it by yourself
Nobody else can walk it for you. You gotta walk it by yourself.
Jesus walked this lonesome valley and he had to walk it by himself
Nobody else could walk it for Him, He had to walk it by himself.”

The man of Galilee was always saying, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” He was willing to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.” “Even in the upper chamber, with death only a few hours away, he goes right on speaking of the joy that is bubbling up in his own heart and he prays that the same joy may abound in the hearts of those that love him.... The cross is near, but it casts no shadow.” (The Character of Jesus, Charles Edward Jefferson)

The prophet speaking in Micah comments, “He has shown me, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

My favorite song for walking, still having the power to comfort my fear through hard times, is The 23rd Psalm. “Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Christianity has preserved the promise of Jesus for the world, confirmed by the words of the song In the Garden, “Love all people as I have loved you; serve your fellow mortals as I have served you. (John 13:34) Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). Only tarry here in Jerusalem while I go to the Father, and until I send you the Comforter. He shall lead you into the enlarged truth, and I will go with you into all the world. I am with you always, and my peace I leave with you.” (John 14:26-27)

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