Falling Rain

from Ananta

Maybe it was a mistake to tear the old roof off the church before we got a permit to put on the new one, but it seemed like an okay idea at the time. A roof and six skylights, and six weeks to get it done before the start of the rainy season—no problem.

One odd delay after another kept pushing us closer to those pictures of raindrops in the long-range forecast. When we finally had the plans and the engineer’s stamp of approval, I took them to the building department, only to hear those dreaded words: “Plan check.” That means their engineers would recalculate everything to be sure our engineer got it right.

On a little project like this, though, that process should only take about twenty minutes. “How long before the plans come back?” I asked the man behind the counter.

“Seven to ten days,” he replied.

The insulating contractor, roofing guy, skylight installer, and electrician were all poised and ready to go, but we couldn’t do anything without the permit. Meanwhile, rain was forecast in five days. The thought of our roofless church soaked by the first rain was not pleasant to contemplate. I called the building department to explain our dilemma.

“I’m the pastor of the Ananda Church and I am in a jam. We tore off the roof and can’t put it on again without a permit. Rain is predicted for Saturday. Can you help?”

“Ananda . . ?” the man at the other end of the phone said. “Is that related to Paramhansa Yogananda?”

“Yes. We are his disciples. The church is dedicated to his teachings.”

“I read Autobiography of a Yogi twenty years ago,” the man continued thoughtfully. We talked for a while and then he said, “I’ll see what I can do.”

At 5:15 that afternoon, fifteen minutes after the department closed, he called back. “Your permit is ready. Come and get it in the morning.”

I walked outside the church to thank Master for his timely intervention. Suddenly, on my left, I felt what I can only describe as a huge presence, and the feeling of Master’s right arm across my back and shoulder, and the gentle grip of his hand. Inwardly, I heard Master say, “Ananda is my work. This is my temple. I’ve got it covered!”

We finished the roof on Saturday afternoon. That night, as I sat alone in the church preparing for Sunday service, I heard the first rain of the season falling on the new skylights.