When I was eight years old I loved to sing songs I learned at church. One of my favorites was a newly published hymn, “Joy is Like the Rain.” It was written by a Medical Mission Sister. I sang her words with passion, “I saw raindrops on my window, Joy is like the rain. Laughter runs across my pain, slips away and comes again. Joy is like the rain.”
Who would have guessed that many years later the author and composer of that song would become one of my most admired feminist theologians? In addition to the “Our Mother” that we use in our worship at Ebenezer/herchurch, Miriam Therese Winter has produced volumes of feminist re-imaged biblical stories, women psalms, and liturgical material as well as hymnals and 13 music albums. They are like water wells for parched hearts and droplets of wisdom in barren times. Her words and images are some of my favorite things, and they refresh my soul.
My other favorite childhood song was first sung by Julie Andrews, as Sister Maria, to all the Van Trap children in that copious bed during a frightening thunderstorm — “Yes, these are a few of my favorite things: raindrops on windows and warm woolen mittens…”
It may not be the best psychology when we need specific or long-term therapy, but often our favorite things, favorite places, and favorite people can shape and re-mold us into moments of joy. I am a person whose temperament is often reflective of the weather, the seasons and the sway of the cosmos. Even though I know how important our recent down-pouring rain is to our four year drought, I was ready for another of my favorite joy-evoking things – a day of sunshine.
As I enjoyed the first day of sun after many days of rain, the water in pools and puddles still graced the land like raindrops of love and grace. In the midst of my photography I am sure I sang out loud, “I saw raindrops on the river, Joy is like the rain. Bit by bit the river grows, till all at once it overflows. Joy is like the rain.”
Written in 1965 “Joy is like the Rain,” became the signature song of the Medical Mission Sisters’ ministry of music and was embraced by inter-faith traditions and many cultures around the world. Mariam Therese Winter says of this song, “It was simply a heart’s credo under excruciating stress, a covenant with One Who, unknown to me then, was leading me along a path I never would have chosen but have wholeheartedly embraced. I smile
every time I sing it or hear it, for I know, and God/dess knows, that this song was sung to life at a point when I felt no joy within me, yet it circled back to me with more joy, more love than any one lifetime can hold. It was my song of faith and trust once, and it still is.”
May your song of faith and trust fall down like the rain and flood your heart with grace and love.
Songlines. Hymns, Songs, Rounds and Refrains for Prayer and Praise, by Miriam Therese Winter, Medical Mission Sisters. Spanning the past half of a century, these songs are still as fresh as raindrops on the first spring wildflowers!
Images: Raindrops on Douglas Iris, Pt. Reyes (shallow depth of field – f/2.8), Korbel Vineyard along the Russian River, Calf with a moist nose – Pt. Reyes.