Millions of raindrops splattered and ricocheted off the concrete ground. Exiting a dry covered patio, with an umbrella in my hand, I walked over to a large pavilion in the center of the church campus. For months, the large Baptist church sat snugly in the dry, Highland California frontier, drinking in the sun’s golden rays. But, on January thirteenth, 2019—the first day of a massive speech and debate tournament occurring on the Church campus—dark cumulonimbus clouds decided to roll over the mountains and sweep over the peaceful church. For nearly two days, the clouds billowed into large clumps of menacing water vapor and drenched the Church buildings with payloads of cold water droplets. Yet, the rain, while keeping the buildings and surroundings dreary, produced quite an opposite effect on the competitors in the tournament.
Arriving under the large pavilion, I met a few other shelter-seeking individuals now drying off from the surrounding deluge. A storm drain lay in the center of the ground underneath the pavilion embracing a flood of H2O. The turgid stream of water violently gushed down the titled patio waterlogging dress shoes and threatening to soak the contents of unattended bags. Here, I—with the other students under the pavilion—waited for postings detailing instructions about the next debate round.
While listening to the rhythmic tapping of the raindrops on the ground just outside the pavilion, I found a couple familiar faces and joined a conversation with some friends. One young man piqued my curiosity. He stood tall and thin against the backdrop of the wet campus. His navy blue, well-fitted suit appeared fairly dry even as water surged over his brown dress shoes, clearly ruining and darkening portions of the leather. His tall, imposing posture commanded the area around him, despite his clear exhaustion from previous hours of speaking and debating. Yet, his countenance flashed with excitement, and he laughed at the supposed water damage his shoes were experiencing. The deluge left him more happy and content than dreary and miserable.
I admired his relaxed spirit. Everywhere clouds seemed to win a clear victory. Formally dressed girls and boys huddled under umbrellas, hoping to escape the drops bulleting towards them from the heavens. Submissive individuals simply acquiesced to the storm’s right to rule and accepted the drops pouring down from the sky. Outdoor stairs, too slick and slippery to climb safely, led to overuse and eventual breaking of an elevator. The damp, fresh atmosphere outside clashed violently inside the buildings with the pungent smells of sweaty students gathered together inside to escape the weather.
Yet, despite the chaos the rain brought, the young man in the navy blue suit reflected the cheerfulness shared by the tournament competitors. Caring probably too much about keeping my black suit and shoes dry, I envied the young man’s patience towards the torrential rains. Unusual weather does not have to ruin a pleasant debate tournament with unneeded anxiety.
When postings finally arrived, I eagerly checked to see where and whom I would debate. To my utmost surprise, I was assigned to debate the calm figure in the blue suit. Braving the rain again and dashing to the next building, I awaited what I now recall as a most pleasant debate, filled with civil refutation and courteous argumentation. The rain, while perhaps damaging leather shoes and cotton suits, could not touch the joyful spirits and quick-thinking minds of cheerful homeschooled debaters.