“Praying for Rain,” Nov. 19, 2018

Maybe, when you read this, it will be raining in California. That is what we’re praying for — a good, soaking rain to put an end to what has been months of death and devastation from fire.

The irony is while Californians are praying for rain, our neighbors in the South and East, who’ve lost homes and loved ones in recent months to hurricanes and flooding, are praying for a dry spell.

Rain can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how much you get. Wouldn’t it be great if those who have too much of something — rain or wealth or responsibilities –could share it with those who don’t have enough? I’m not the first to ask that. I hope I’m not the last.

Growing up in the Carolinas, I loved watching storms roll in over the mountains. Once, when I was 8, I hid beneath a giant cedar while lightning crashed and rain turned the creek into a torrent and my grandmother stood on the porch frantically calling my name. I didn’t answer. I didn’t want it to end.

In college, most of my classmates used umbrellas in the rain. Not me. I ran to class laughing, bareheaded and barefoot, carrying my shoes. As a young mother, I didn’t get everything right. Far from it. But on rainy days, I’d bundle the kids up in raincoats and rubber boots and we’d go out stomping puddles. Then we’d come home to dry off, light a fire and read our favorite books. I don’t know if they remember it. But I do.

One of my favorite rain memories is this: We were camping in Yosemite National Park. The kids were playing in the river with their dad and I was reading on the bank when thunder began to rumble. While my husband took the kids to the campsite to dry off, I stayed behind to gather towels and trash. Then something made me stop and look up at Yosemite Falls.

That summer was so dry the falls were barely a trickle. But suddenly, as the storm began dumping rain on the mountain, the falls began to gush like a giant firehose, tumbling over the cliffs, down the granite face, falling some 2,000 feet into the river.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

I also remember the summer we were forced to evacuate from Yosemite as wildfires threatened to close all the park’s exits. We drove out singlefile in a caravan with hundreds of other campers, meeting along the road dozens of firetrucks loaded with young men who were headed to the park to fight the blaze.

The wettest winter I recall was when my first husband died of cancer. Rain fell for days, a gift for a parched soul. I watched the hills turn green. And slowly I remembered I was still alive.

Years later, I remarried and moved with my new husband to Las Vegas, where the usual daily forecast is “abundant sunshine.” Average annual rainfall in Vegas is about 4 inches. You can get most of it in a cloud burst. Also, there’s virga — rain that’s visible as it falls from clouds but evaporates before it hits ground.

I saw a lot of virga. Not a lot of rain. But scarcity made it seem more precious. I love the smell of rain anywhere, especially when it’s falling on the desert.

It’s been almost six months since we moved back to the coast of California, and to the steady news of wildfires burning up and down the state. Now, for the first time since we’ve been back, hallelujah! There’s rain in the forecast. Maybe even enough to put out the fires and clear the air of smoke.It could change, of course. It often does. But I’m beyond happy at the possibility.

Yes, we are praying for rain in California. If it misses us this time, we’ll keep praying. Maybe you will pray with us?

Rain will come soon. The hills will turn green. And we will remember that we’re still alive.



  1. Phyllis Rommens says

    As I read this, I believe your beloved state has received rain.
    I pray for additional rain, and also that every one who has brush in their vicinity will make every possible effort to clear it to hopefully stop another disaster such a this.

  2. Janette Beam says

    You Are A Blessing for All!

  3. This summer I heard a joke here in Maryland that we only got rain two times– once for 4 weeks and once for 5 weeks. In July we drove through California on our “Big Trip Out West,” and many of the places we drove through have burned. I have been praying for our excess to go to your state (which is also where I was born).

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Oh Sharon, how much we pray for rain. My dearest friend is a Pastor in Chico, the smoke, the destruction (more that 11,000 homes destroyed and some 300 plus commercial buildings) and the untold loss of life (it will be in the hundreds) has brought so much suffering to his community. Praying for rain, but also praying that more families will have some kind of closure knowing what happened to their dear ones. Rain could wash away any hope of knowing.

  5. Betty McNall says

    I pray for rain for you! Fires are so devastating and the loss of life even worse. We are motoring ago south idah O for Thanhsgiving and are hoping rain only and not snow! I’m getting to old for driving on snow and ice roads. Please be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family !

  6. Debra Dardenne says

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and life each week. I look forward to your column it reminds me of growing up on a small farm in AR. We were very poor in material things but everyone was back then, but we were wealthy in health, something to eat from the farm and we had family who cared for us. My husband and I grew up together knowing our families well. We both chose careers in teaching he was also a coach. Our daughter is an elementary principal and son works in safety for an oil company. We have 2 grandsons ( 10 & 8) a granddaughter (2), like you they are the reason we get up everyday. Again thank you and I pray for all in CA.

  7. Sylvia J Lewis says

    Sharon thank you for your prayers for rain. We certainly need it, and hope it is gentle on our state where the fire has burned all to the ground. Your columns are wonderful. Please don’t ever stop
    writing. Thank you.

  8. G. Wayne Harris says

    Sharon, I have tried for years to get our Spartanburg Herald-Journal to carry your columns. You probably grew up with the SHJ. The Journal use to be the afternoon paper but now its all-in-one and delivered in the mornings. Maybe you or your syndication company could persuade them otherwise. The publisher is Kevin Drake, the Managing Editor is Michael Smith.

    Years ago when I was living in North Carolina, you sent me a picture of your former home in California with a nice note. I still have both. Thank you again.

  9. Carol Toothman says

    I so hope the rain comes for your state.. Such sadness, all the people losing loved ones and all the people losing everything. I am praying you get the rain.

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