"God sent a rain today
to show how miracles are made.
The trees and grasses looked and listened,
the hills did likewise.
Only man put up his umbrella -and grumbled and grumbled." - anon.
But I was determined to walk again this morning, in spite of the heavy rain. I donned wellies and raincoat, set off for Ally Pally, put up my umbrella.
It was wholly and completely different to yesterday. Then, the sun shone warm on my face, the sky blue to my gaze. The crowds were out, taking gentle exercise on a pleasant autumnal Sunday morning.
I dodged through groups of runners and cyclists, passed the greyhound owners club as they lined up their dogs, stepped out of the way of Bugaboo mummies as they hurtled their offspring along the footpaths. All around me was noise - dogs and babies, shouts and song, a veritable Babel of mid-European languages (and occasionally some English.)
In spite of the crowding, I tried to listen for the Lord's voice, to find Him in the walking and rhythming of my pace. I laughed at the sun and gloried in the warmth and rejoiced in the time away from family and friends for a while. Round and up and down and round, until 12,000 steps registered. Then I left the trees and the grasses to the people, whose Palace apparently it is.
Today, there was no-one. Just me and my umbrella, the rain and the falling leaves. And God. In the silence of the falling rain there was just Him and me. No other distractions. No dogs or people, no babies or Babel. I splashed in a puddle, gloried in the autumn colours still radiant in the rain.
And wondered afresh at the contrast. In the rain, the gloom, the damp, it was easier to listen to the Lord. No other joyful distractions.
I thought again of the gratitude in the brokenness, of the eucharistic moment of giving thanks when the bread is broken, of the miracle that comes from much brokenness. It was hard to hear Him in the happiness of the Indian summer; in the rain and aloneness, He seemed much nearer.
Had you offered me a choice, I would have chosen sunshine over shadow, richness over rain. But I would have missed God's voice.
I am glad I walked again today. It was a Retreat: under my umbrella was God - with me.
When God drills deep, He always strikes a fresh new spring.
Over to you - when do you find it easiest to listen to the Lord, to hear that still small voice?