Posted by: Titus Presler | December 6, 2011

A Coming of Rain: Meditation for Advent II Tuesday

Lots of prayers for rain were being said during a devastating drought in Zimbabwe.  Two months into the planting season there had been little rain at Bonda, and the fledgling maize was beginning to wilt.

An idea took root and germinated among the people: “Let’s go over into the fields and pray there.”  So one hot dusty Sunday after eucharist people processed down the hill from the church with incense, crucifix and torches, through the village, over the drying-up river and up the other side into the fields.  It wasn’t the whole congregation, for some were too discouraged to make such a sign, and others wondered how the ancestral spirits would feel about it.

In the fields we knelt on the dry earth and prayed aloud in Shona.  Some prayed short hesitant prayers.  Emily and Ernest Matsanura, honored elders, prayed long and passionately.  We sang a hymn and then began the procession back.

“Well,” I thought as we walked through the still hot landscape, “that was faithful.  We shouldn’t have overheated expectations.  The faithfulness will bear some fruit in our lives somewhere along the way.”

Walking through the eucalypus trees near the church I saw a small wisp of cloud high in the sky but thought little of it.  No sign there.  Back at the rectory, the wisp had become a cloudbank.  An hour later it was raining – not pouring, but raining for the first time in two months.  I sat on the verandah and watched, and wondered, and thanked.

The next day it rained some more.  And some more the day after that.  There was rain at Bonda that year, and a harvest.

Would it have happened anyway?  I don’t know.  What about all the other people who prayed and received no rain?  I don’t know, nor do I need to.  I do know that I was reminded of the drought-ridden cloud the size of a hand that Elijah saw from Mt. Carmel, the cloud that became a downpour.

Sometimes we look for signs and don’t see what we think we need to move forward.  It may seem that there aren’t any signs.  A spiritual adviser once said to me, “You’re asking God for signs for which direction to take.  Maybe God is asking you, ‘What do you want to do for me?'”

The way I reckon it is this: The people of Bonda that day had no sign to go on.  Yet they were willing to walk out and be a sign.  And God gave them a sign.

This meditation is excerpted from Titus Presler’s “Alert for Signs: Seeing and Praying through Advent” (Forward Movement Publications). 


  1. A dramatic and moving story.

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