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What else do April showers bring?

THIS CATHOLIC’S LIFE - Rev. Michael L. Griffin
by Rev. Michael Griffin - 5/2/2012
It is an old joke. In fact, it is the oldest joke I remember.

I am pretty sure it is not the first joke I ever learned, but it is the one that has lasted the longest in my memory.

I remember that I first read it in the “Weekly Reader” when I was in early grade school, and for reasons which still elude me, it has stayed with me ever since.

It goes like this.

“If April showers bring May flowers; what do May flowers bring?”

And the answer is…pilgrims.

(I will pause here for the laughter.)

Since this is the oldest in my joke repertoire, it has a certain pride of place and I still love to tell it. Often times I can get a good laugh out of one of the kids at St. Joseph School, and sometimes I can even find an adult who has never heard it.

My favorite part is watching them try to figure it out and then the relieved smile when they do. Maybe that is why it has lasted so long, that wonderful moment of realization and laughter.

It is an old joke and a simple one, but I do love to tell it this time of year.

Of course it only really works this time of year, then there are April showers and May flowers. Although in Pierre, we have not had a lot of showers in April, there have been enough to slowly transform the parched earth.

As mentioned previously, we have not had a lot of snow this winter and the last real rain storm we had was on the Fourth of July, so things were pretty brown around here. That is, until the day after our First Communion Mass; that Sunday we had a nice rain, an all day rain.

At first, as usually happens, the rain just sort of flowed over the hard soil. It had been too long and it was almost as if the ground had forgotten what rain felt like, like the earth had forgotten how to receive this gift.

Yet, slowly, the moisture began to sink deeper and deeper and soon the ground was soaking in the water. It rained off and on most the day, and we have had a few brief showers since, but it was enough at the time to do what April showers do, and do magnificently.

The grass began to transform, it seemed in an instant, from brown and thatchy to lush and green. The trees, which had begun to bloom shifted into high gear and the blossoms exploded around the city. The lilac bushes which had grown green and full began to bring forth their delicate buds, their all too brief flowers followed.

As I sat in my room a few days after the rain, the smell of grass and the perfume of crabapple blossoms and lilacs began to float through my open window.

April showers indeed.

They are grace-filled showers; bringing such beauty and life, such sweet scented breezes.

I consider it a singular gift from God that these days fall during the Easter season when we are so mindful of the mystery of Christ’s resurrection and new life. When we think about the resurrection, and celebrate it, we sometimes get a bit focused on the details that we miss the glorious picture.

The earth around us is exploding in praise. It reminds me of the lovely song by Sandi Patty that the choir used to sing on Easter Sunday at the Newman Center at SDSU:

“Was it a morning like this

When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem?

And as they raced toward to tomb

Beneath their feet was there a tune?

Did the grass sing?

Did the earth rejoice to feel you again?”

I think the May flowers answer these questions quite nicely.

This is Easter, this is the grace the flows upon us, in soft showers and the gentle sprinkling of Holy Water at the beginning of Mass. We are blessed with Easter joy and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Like a dry and parched earth, it may flow over us for a while; but soon, it will begin to make its way inside and we will find this grace and joy soaking us, filling us and flowing out of us.

We become the May flowers the Easter showers bring forth.