At Mother Nature’s Beck And Call

Posted: August 30, 2007 in Children, Compassion, Homelessness

Although it would mean having to spend the day indoors, as a young boy I used to love the rain. I think in part it was because I knew that everyone else was also indoors and I wasn’t missing out on anything. Now that I’m old(er), rain has a different effect on me.

Winter is the rainy season in central California. This past season, we had a shortage of rain. Last night, just shortly after midnight, Mother Nature decided to let us have some of the precious water that this region so desperately needs. I’m glad about that. But, I do have some mixed feelings about it as well.  

Like many people, I developed allergies later in life. Last night’s rain means that trees, and shrubs, and flowers will go through a quick period of bloom, and my allergies will kick into full bloom right along with them. Even the allergy medications that I take will not be able to prevent all of the sneezing and watery eyes that I’ll endure over the next few days.

There are a lot of people who like the period immediately after the rain stops. They say that it makes everything smell fresh. Personally all this talk about how "clean and fresh" the air smells after it rains it a bunch of rot. What they really smell is the dampness of the plant life, the soil and the dirt – and how clean can dirt be?

Another thing that it on my mind about the rain we had last night is this:

According to a 2006 Homeless Enumeration Report, there are some 2408 persons who are homeless in San Luis Obispo County – 817 of that number are children. Currently there are between 180 and 200 "emergency shelter beds" available county wide for the homeless. This means that last night roughly some 2200 people were forced to sleep outside – in the rain!

Compared to some of the rain storms this area has, last night’s rain was nothing more than a sprinkle. Still, since homeless children out number shelter beds in this county by a ratio of about 4 to 1, I’m wondering if they were able to find some location to stay dry. More than that, I’m wondering how as a community we can think so highly of ourselves and yet continue to allow children to be homeless. How is it that we have become so self-centered that we often times willingly close our eyes to the sufferings of those who we should be seeking to aid?

One last thought I have about last nights rain –

Along with the rain, Mother Nature decided to throw in a light show in the form of lightning and thunder. Perhaps that was just to remind us who’s really in charge.

When she decides to flex her muscles, Mother Nature has a way of showing us that all of us – homeless and non-homeless – are at her mercy. And, for all of our apparent sophistication, she can still lay us low if she chooses. She proved that two years ago with Hurricane Katrina. She turned a lot of "regular" people into homeless people just by exhaling.

Perhaps there really isn’t all that much difference between any of us after all.

Now, if only we were willing to recognize that, maybe we’d be more willing to help those who so desperately need our help.

  1. Jose says:

    I went out last night to close a window in my office. Than I stood outside and watched felt and enjoyed the thunder , lightening and than rain.
    Than I got a sinking feeling because I started thinking about you and the many other members of our community that were spending the night in tents or maybe only sleeping bags under the trees.
    This morning I saw how some folks spent the night, wet and cold. Walking down the street with a wet sleeping bag around their shoulders looking for a little sunshine to get warm.
    I saw a few of many.

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