I thought of this title because Chani (our daughter) is staffing a CTeen Extreme adventure road-trip from Denver to Los Angeles, and just sent us pictures of her hiking for miles immersed waist deep (sometimes higher) in the Virgin River in the stunningly beautiful Narrows Canyon of Zion National Park in Utah. That’s with her camera and equipment (one of her roles in trip photographer). It was over 100 (dry) degrees out, so being in the water was incredibly refreshing. That’s when its good to have wet feet.
But in (most) other situations, “wet feet” is undesirable and ruinous, can be destructive and even dangerous:
Earlier this week, we learned the hard way about plants having wet feet. Our family bought flowering petunia plants to plant out front with the kids, and being it was so rainy we didn’t have a chance to plant so we left them on an outdoor table, but as the table (one of our older plastic ones) had a concave to it, water collected in the rain, the plants roots sat in that too long, and when we planted them – they were too far gone.
Not to mention the Champlain Tower condo collapse at Surfside. It remains to be seen as to the experts analysis of what went wrong and what caused that building’s collapse but early reports indicate there was some issue with waterproofing, leaking water from the pool area, and effects of saltwater corrosion, and all types of water damage that may have corroded the buildings core supports.
And with Hurricane Elsa churning up the coast, many parts of the metro NYC area, especially along the coasts are being hit with heavy rain and flash flooding.
All this recalls a story in the Talmud about “Choni the Circle-Maker” in tractate Taanit 19a (and the following page as well):
What did he do? He drew a circle on the ground and stood inside it and said before God: Master of the Universe, Your children have turned their faces toward me, as I am like a member of Your household. Therefore, I take an oath by Your great name that I will not move from here until You have mercy upon Your children and answer their prayers for rain. Rain began to trickle down, but only in small droplets. He said: I did not ask for this, but for rain to fill the cisterns, ditches, and caves with enough water to last the entire year. Rain began to fall furiously. He said: I did not ask for this damaging rain either, but for rain of benevolence, blessing, and generosity.
His rabbinic colleagues actually were affectionately critical of Choni for this impudent insistence on a Goldilocks’ perfect type of rain. After all, rain is a blessing, especially in that part of the world, and we ought to be grateful. But the story illustrates the point that not all rain is beneficial. Moderation is best. Too much rain can do more harm than good.
Part of what makes rain more beneficial can be dependent on our efforts. As this entry (for 2 Adar II) in the Rebbe’s HaYomYom daily calendar illustrates:
A blessing must have a hold in something. Just as rain benefits only the plowed and sown field, and early and later heavy rains benefit the crops of field or vine. But a neglected and wasted field, unplowed and unsown, will benefit from neither soft rain, nor the early or later heavy rains.
And one more thought:
Water is fluid that we tend to misunderstand its strength. Ah, it is just water! Often strength is mistakenly associated with rigidity or permanence, but ironically it is water’s flexible agility and fluidity that allows it to seep into and penetrate anywhere and everywhere. Think of this in terms of a relationship, how flexibility may allow for even greater strength (of each person and tehir joint bonds) than rigidity.