After Passover, prayer for rain ceases for a time in Israel. A downpour of precipitation would ruin drying harvests during this season. Water is still essential to nourishing the land, so Jewish people begin to pray for dew. When the High Holy Days are finished in mid-autumn, they resume prayers for rain.
The mystery of dew captivated me as a child. I remember soaking my stocking feet as I walked through the dewy grass once or twice in the early morning. And I recall learning about dew in grade school–all the scientific explanations about condensation, dew point, earth radiation, atmospheric humidity, etc.
Although it is a scientific phenomenon, I still think of dew as a mystery just like I did as a child. Each morning it appears magically to replenish the earth. It’s droplets are gentle and refreshing yet potent. It is almost like manna of old. When the Israelites wandered through the desert searching for the land of promise, the thin wafers–manna from heaven–that tasted like honey and coriander appeared outside, mysteriously and miraculously. Manna served as daily bread, even sustenance. This food portion came to God’s ancient people automatically–whether they were hungry or not; whether they were good or bad or prayed up or prayerless. Manna fell and fed those who left Egypt for a better life.
I like what one Jewish writer said about the difference between dew and rain comparing them to our physical systems. Dew is like breathing or like the constant beating of our hearts. The continual rhythm of pumping blood or rise and fall of ingested air when you are born happens even if you don’t want it to. It is God’s gift to you. But you never want to take it for granted. You ask God to keep your lungs and heart going, so you can live a long and healthy life.
Rain is like our digestive systems–conditions must be right for them to work properly. Proper nutrition must be ingested along with balanced fiber, water, etc. to get and keep the process going. And sometimes it takes an act of God to make it work right from beginning to end. I like the humor in this and the sparkle of truth.
So today I join the Jewish people of Israel in praying for dew–although it is automatic and scientifically built into the ecosystem–it is still a small mysterious miracle that keeps life going here on earth. It is a small yet wondrous gift from a loving God, and I am grateful for it. And as I pray, I remember a scripture from Hosea as well:
“I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon” [Hosea 14:5].
He will come to His ancient people like the dew… without fail… miraculously… mysteriously… whether they deserve it or not.
That’s our God!