In June a desperate urgency hung over a hot rural town in western Ohio. In the 1920's rain was a sensitive friend to the farmers in this town who relied on the growth of their crops to support their families. If there is too much rain, the corn and tomatoes could be washed out. If not enough rain fell, then few crops would survive the heat and make it to harvesting season. So far this season you could count on one hand how many times it had rained.
By the end of June it seemed the whole town took on the temperament of the fields: hot, grumpy, and thirsty for rain. After hearing an ear full of complaining for the past six weeks, the old Priest of the town took action. At the end of a particularly arid Sunday Mass Father announced a special Mass to be held the following Friday offering up the intentions of all farmers and to ask God to send rain.
"Jesus tells us not to worry. The daisies never worry and yet they are clothed with more splendor than King Solomon." The kind old Priest smiled, "How much more will God take care of you, whom He loves much more than daisies."
Not a few in the pews thought even daisies would not hold up much longer in such a scorcher and wondered if the Priest could not have chosen a better example from the Bible. Even so, they were all a little hopeful and at least determined to pray with all their hearts at next Friday's Mass.
That Friday, the kindly old Priest looked out on the small congregation of winnowing fans in stuffy dresses and brow-wipers in cotton shirts. All the windows were ajar and even the doors to the Church were left open to gasp for air. Every now and then the sighs of uncomfortable horses could be heard, tied up on the shady side of the Church near the doors. Other than this there was no movement nor even the faintest breeze outside.
The worn Priest nervously patted his neck with a handkerchief and wiped his mouth as eyes persisted on him, waiting for the homily. The dry heat was everywhere and on everything. He smirked as he made a silent joke to himself about the effect this Mass might have on the next month's collection if rain did not come soon.
The Priest began to speak, starting the homily on faith he had given every year around this time for decades, when an object in the sea of warm bodies caught his breath. It was small, short, and brightly colored; clutched firmly in the grasp of a small bright girl whose feet hardly touched the ground where she sat. Such an object was unique in the Church and one of its kind on that day. The Priest had not seen one in almost two months.
A familiar feeling of conviction, hope, and reckless abandon stirred anew in the Priest's soul. And the stooped Priest of God stood tall and pointed to the girl and gave a homily that made everyone who heard it forget about the heat and see themselves and God for the first time in months.
No one who retold this story in the years to come could ever remember if rain came that year. Either way wouldn't change the transformation that happened to the eyes of everyone present that day.
But if it did rain, it was because of the faith of the girl with the umbrella.