Children who once played in the mud, making their mothers cry out in anger, now sit resigned in the ashes of a shattered world. Instead of making mud pies, they simply sit in the dust as the brown grass crumbles to ashes in their tiny hands. They wonder what it was like before, when it had rained. Yet they know that any water they can find comes from deep beneath their feet, not high in the air.
The feel of a cool breeze sweeping through a small happy town is in the past, a distant memory. Just as the sprinkle of a gentle rain plinking against a bedroom window triggers memories of a very distant world; so also the thoughts of drowning, floods, and tsunamis fade into obscurity. They are an unknown dream, a distant thought, and a quiet mystery. Never seen, never heard, never even whispered of, they have disappeared completely.
A breath of wind is greeted with a groan; a breeze, with cries of terror; a steady wind, with hiding. The rising of the sun, formerly a thing of great beauty, is now greeted only by death. The setting of the sun beckons the people from their refuges and into the gentler heat of the moon.
And then, suddenly, from the farthest edges of the horizon, a strange cloud appears. It is not light and fluffy, as the usual irrelevant clouds are. Instead, it fills the sky, moving slowly towards the city. Dark at its center, it seems to slowly block out the harsh sun while replacing it with a terrible foreboding.
The sky fills with electricity as the people watch the storm front quietly fill the sky. As darkness ascends on the city, the scent of death fills the air. A disturbingly cold wind surrounds the city, even reaching the fearful people hiding in their homes. The fear grows with the wind and the thunder. Every few moments the sky shatters as it is torn apart by flashes of light.
Then, when all seems to have reached its peak and the light of the cruel sun is beginning to poke back through the clouds, something falls from the sky. It drops, slowly, slowly, and ever more slowly as it moves in the direction of the ground. It continues to plummet, pulling the eyes of all those looking out their windows with it. Crystalized beauty in liquid form, it begins to move faster, as if it has just seen its long lost love and is running to greet someone it hardly remembers.
As it collapses into the earth, it briefly regrets its decision. It thrashes out, reaching back up towards the sky, before looking back down and greeting the ground with a hug and a smile. Soaking down into the dust, it slowly gives new sense of purpose, and new life to the earth. A little boy, glancing in fear out the window, sees another drop fall towards the ground. His eyes follow it hungrily as it plummets down. When it hits, his eyes sparkle and glow with the reflection of a thousand tiny specks of precious water, glittering in the sunlight.
Close on the heels of the first two drops, a thousand tiny droplets race to the ground. People run out of their safe houses and into the pouring rain, welcoming a sight they never thought they’d see again. With open arms and wide eyes, children who have never before seen rain twirl until they fall in the mud on the earth.
When the last drop has fallen from the sky, the people finally stop for a moment and simply stand in the streets. Barely recognizable as humans, people stand in the streets, smiling through their coats of brown muck. The mud coating their clothes is wet and dirty, but it is better than all the gold in the world to these desperate people.
As the people laugh at each other, the sun reappears. Its light is still harsh, and will soon dry the earth once more, but this shower has brought hope that tomorrow the skies could open. Tomorrow, the world could change. But today, today the smell of victory and life rises into the air.
The smell of death is choked and removed as the dust and mud settles into the earth once more. In its place, sweet rebirth fills the earth with an aroma as beautiful as anything in the world to the people. This is love. This is hope. This is peace. This is Christ. This is God’s gift to the world: Petrichor.