Driving home tonight, my car chiseled out a path in a lingering fog and rain. Streetlights are muted, soft, the light lying gently on the asphalt. I consider them shining all night on no one, persisting without anyone to be grateful for them, anyone to notice. Electrical current continues to flow, a slight hum of the light-song beneath. I noticed, anyway.
The soundtrack for such rumination is, again, The Innocence Mission. My Room In the Trees is not my favorite of their albums musically, but its subdued tone and lack of a standout song fits this nocturnal drive through a half-hearted rain and tentacled fog. Lyrically, rain abounds in the lyrics. Karen Peris sings “rain sails us in a leafy boat down the street,” or about blow[ing] down alleyways in our raincoats,” about walking under clouds, the “gentle rain at home,” how the “streets were in a downpour,” about “raincoats and lakes,” and how “all we can do with the rain is shout for joy.” Here too are affirmations of God’s care in the weather of life, that “God is love and love will never fail me,” how “across the morning, the beautiful air/ I will be aware/ my Father is there/ and stay calm,” how “everything that is broken you’ll mend.” Hearing these phrases, the rain and fog become assuring, like a personification of God’s love.
I turn right, up the hill from the valley, home. When I first saw this valley 45 years ago, cows grazed its grass taking water at its creek. Now, concrete covers most of it. Commerce, not cows rules. Yet, glancing at it, I can imagine the owls in the trees along the creek bank still carrying some dim instinctual memory of that day, passed down by ancestors, or a fox traversing its banks, homeward bound, ears alert. Or even beaver, damming.
But thinking of what’s lost, of what’s changed, I just want to be home. As I sail upstream, alone in the light of night, I hear “my Father is there,” and I smile.