So, today we had a hard rain. You know the kind. There weren't thunderstorms, but it was a hard, driving rain nonetheless. The kind of rain where water is flowing in the streets. Light rain merely opens up new smells (usually not good ones) that have been trapped under dried substances. However hard rains provide a cleansing. Of the streets. Of the sidewalks. Cars. Buildings. And some people.
The rain only lasted about thirty minutes, but it was more than enough to cause change. It was more than fitting that it happened today, August 31st. The last day of Summer. I know, I know, Summer officially lasts until September 21st, having to do with soltices and equinoxes. That in and of itself doesn't make sense to me, because I am much more likely to go swimming before the first day of Summer (June 21st) and so much less likely to go swimming after August 31st. Read about the "End of Summer" in Italy here. In that last item I noted how the weather had turned cooler before the end of the month, however it heated back up the last few days. Tomorrow should be different however. After all, the first day in September is always cool in Italy. The rain seemed to be ushering in a fresh start into the fall weather.
Fresh starts are what the August/September "time-between-the-times" is all about. The country of Italy will almost shut down in August. Businesses close down for weeks or even the whole month. Last week I saw many who were transitioning into a fresh start. One man was repainting his fruit stand. New paint=Fresh Start. Several other businesses take August to renovate their shops. New shelves=Fresh Start. I saw the owner of a small store which is the equivalence of a convenience store in America (minus fuel). He has had his stored closed for several weeks now. He is bronze like the third place medals handed out at the Olympics last week. His appearance betrayed that he had spent much of his time at the beach or at the very least, in the sun. I asked him if he was ready to open tomorrow. He answered "Domani sono prontissimi!" Which means 'Tomorrow I am more than ready!' Time off=Fresh Start.
As the Casey's return to Italy this month (in less than two weeks in fact) our team will be having a fresh start. We have a growing church, that had four visitors to Life Group this last Sunday, making the attendance in our home fifteen. We have much to do in the upcoming weeks and we know that God continually gives us 'fresh starts'. In fact that is why we are here in Italy. There are many people who need a 'fresh start.' Not with paint or shelves or time off, but rather an internal cleansing of the soul. We want to share about the fresh starts God has given us and is more than ready to give others, if they only accept His offer. In this life we can be more than thankful for fresh starts.