Question from prospective student’s mother, asked of me as we stand by the chapel on the most beautiful crisp sunlit October day you ever saw in your life: Does it rain here?
Does it rain here? Is the pope Jesuit? Is the ocean salty? Do swallows return in the spring? Are there still trees bigger than your house in the remote ravines of the dense moist forests of Cascadia? How do you think those trees got to be so epic? Did you know that those huge trees can drink water right out of the air? Do you think that a tree could get its water from the air without there being a lot of water in the air?
Does it rain here? Come back on All Souls Day, when the Rains begin with an indescribable gentle firm authority, so that you know, even before you are fully awake, that this is the Day, this is the beginning of the Wet, for the rain is thorough and relentless and inarguable, and this is not a shower, or a scatter, or a passing cloudburst, or a storm, but the opening bars of a very long song, the first chapter of a book that will take the next three seasons to read, the first minutes of a very long game, during which you will huddle under an umbrella, and thrash in the closet for your raincoat, and rub mink oil into your shoes yet again, and put that ratty old towel on the porch, so that when the dog wants to come in, some poor child has to kneel and wipe his muddy paws so he does not trot runes upon the floor I just this minute finished sweeping.
Does it rain here? Look about you, woman. Gaze long and lovingly on the lushness of the grass, and the vault of the trees, and the tangled insistence of the bushes, and the startling prevalence of moss, and the little swale near the chapel that is always moist so matter how hot and dry the weather, and tell me if you think that perhaps yes, a drop doth fall here and there, and then another, and then a thousand and million and uncountable zillions from November right through June, so that summer here is accounted from July through October, after which the Rains begin, and neither they do not cease, day after day after day of mist and rain and fog and drizzle and pitter and drench! Gaze about you piercingly at the endless ranks and shades of green across the river, and tell me if you think the long thicketed flank of the Tualatin Mountains is perhaps the product of uncountable years of the steadiest rain you could ever imagine! Gaze down upon the broad muscle of the river, and consider whence came all that water, which does not cease though the sun be bright, and almost doubles its serpentine girth in spring, when months of rain and weeks of snowmelt send a rush and roar of immense proportions to the sea, the Water from which all things came, including, in a sense, us!
Does it rain here? Madame, it does. But rather than groan and moan about it, let us consider it an extraordinary gift from the One: falling free and fresh from the sky every blessed day here on the bluff is clean water, untouched and untrammeled by the greedy hand of man; and so let us step inside the chapel, and thank that which once called itself I Am Who Am, Who giveth us profligately the sweet and savory rain; and so amen.