Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness. – Isaiah 45:8 (NRSV)
Before September 11, 2001, if something fell from the sky, it was snow, rain, or hail—only weather. If we noticed a silver glint above us, it was just a jet, and we might’ve wished we were on it, escaping for rest. If we caught a flare at the corner of our eye, it was a shooting star, and we felt lucky to see it.
We didn’t expect planes to slice into offices, or that looking up we might see souls hurtling a hundred stories to the dust of collapsed futures. We didn’t know that the sky could rain a million memos, a pair of shoes, a menu with the specials of the day, a man we met on Monday for a drink.
Advent isn’t too far away. When it begins, the church will place on our lips a scriptural plea for deliverance. A prayer our forebears offered with their faces raised to their own sorrowful skies, for there is no time without great sorrow: “You heavens, open from above, that clouds may rain down the Just One!”
So much pain and sorrow fell from the sky twenty years ago that even now we may not dare face up. We may still tremble to raise our heads, as the scriptures imply we must. Yet this was faith’s posture then. It still is. Heads lifted, hands outstretched, hearts open.
It’s still the world’s most needed gesture—to point upward to every cloud of sorrow and declare that from such skies, even from such skies, our longed-for healing comes. To testify by the stubbornly hopeful way we live that God is already giving us a new sky under which all creatures may live without fear of falling objects. To declare against all evidence to the contrary that it’s safe to be outside.
You heavens, open from above, and let clouds rain down justice, healing, and peace for us and for all the nations.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.