Last week I got more texts from the emergency weather alert system than from friends and family.
“Severe thunderstorm warning!”
“Flash flood warning!”
I like to be outside during thunderstorms. Perhaps my mother planted that wish when she told me that in her youth she loved to sit on a hill on the family farm (under a tree, no less) and listen to the rain and watch lightening.
Just as rain washes dust and grime from our cars, or sweeps litter from a sidewalk, rain represents cleansing, renewal, and a fresh start in life. Rain reveals several life truths.
Growth is often messy and may come at inconvenient times
We faced torrential rain on the morning of my youngest son’s college graduation. No one brought an umbrella, so his big brother dropped everyone off at the door and walked back in the rain after parking the car. He looks like a drowned rat in the commencement pictures! In a similar way, we can be blindsided by a challenge, an unexpected and often unwanted opportunity for growth, when we’re dressed up expecting a party.
I didn’t know my employer would eliminate my job a month after my father died.
I didn’t plan to total my car during a move to a new town where I had no friends (except Jane, whom I’d met once and spoken to for a minute, who came to my rescue early one Saturday morning. Thanks, Jane!) I didn’t know a long-time friend I trusted would attack me when I spoke up. The rains of unexpected loss can rush in and wash away plans and expectations.
It’s best to go slow after a rain
I once hiked after a hard rain. When I came back each hiking boot felt like it weighed ten pounds because of the gooey mud I picked up along the way. Another time I jumped into my kayak and launched into a fast-flowing creek without securing the bag holding my valuables. In thirty seconds I hit a partially submerged tree trunk—a “strainer” in river lingo. My boat flipped, I went underwater and lost my cell phone, keys, ids and credit cards.
In my opinion, when you feel like you’re underwater and struggling to stay afloat it is a good time to slow down and get your bearings. Rest. Meditate. Listen to calming music. Read inspiring books, like Anne Lamott’s luminous exploration of mercy, Hallelujah Anyway. Rushing rain can forge a new channel for your life work. You may need to give it time.
Rain is an opportunity to open up and let go
This requires me to open my hands and release hopes and dreams and hurts and grudges. In the gospels Matthew records Jesus saying “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” That seems unfair, in a dry, arid climate where rain and water are precious. Yet the prior verse contains an even more outrageous instruction—love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. It’s hard to do that. Yet sometimes during a rainy season of life, I realize we’re all in this together, all imperfect, all unjust in one way or another. Out of gratitude for the nourishing, cleansing, life-giving rain I have received, I open my hands, let go of my grudges, and bless those with whom I’ve struggled.
How about you? How do you feel on rainy days and Mondays?
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During the next warm rainy spring or summer day, walk in the rain, barefoot, without coat or umbrella. Soak yourself in life-giving, cleansing, rejuvenating rain.
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