I’m standing at my office window, looking down the river toward the Island and watching the sky grow increasingly disturbed. Roiling black clouds are in a shoving match, it appears. Just beyond them is the unmistakably hazy sheen of slanting rain, pushing to make passage among the angry clouds and moving forward ever so slowly, toward my window.
There’s still sunshine here, and blue sky. Someone’s taking a stroll around the building, although I sense his stroll is turning into a more aerobic outing as he lifts his gaze down river.
It takes seven minutes to shutter the sun and overlay the blue with black. Another two minutes, and the first drops of rain strike the earth, and my window, which is now slicked with hammering rain. But I know that in 15 minutes or so – maybe more, maybe less – the clouds will take their argument forward, the rain will follow, and the sun will burn its way through what’s left of their tantrum.
Rain has to start somewhere, doesn’t it? While it’s here and it’s dark and cloudy and stormy and wet and miserable – it’s all pervasive. But if you’ve ever watched a storm arrive, as I have today, you realize it’s not really all pervasive and eternal. So while my world – or rather, while my tiny sphere at the moment – is wet and cold and dreary and dark – I will be out of it if I travel far enough east, or west, north or south, whether I’m measuring my steps in miles or in thoughts.
I’ve been thinking about loss and grief lately, partly because I read an excellent, luminously written book by Maria Sirois called “A Short Course in Happiness After Loss (and Other Dark, Difficult Times),” and partly because I know of several people for whom the storm and the rain have arrived. One, a loss of a life’s companion that was expected but still difficult, handled with such gentle grace and presence that it left me in awe. Another so sudden and unexpected that it required grasping for understanding and some sort of closure and growth. And it left me equally in awe.
So I’m grateful for this rain on this day at my window in my office. It leaves me with this:
Storms run their course. They arrive, and sometimes we see them coming … sometimes we don’t. They may linger, true, but they also fade. There are black clouds, but they disperse to allow the sun, and the blue sky, to return. It is the dichotomy that makes life so puzzling and so lovely – there is good and bad, darkness and light, happiness and sadness, pleasure and hurt … and there can be happiness after loss. Yes, we may wander a while before we discover it, but it is there, waiting for us to make our way to it in our own time and in our own ways.
Songwriter Gary Allan writes: “Every storm runs, runs out of rain just like every dark night turns into day. Every heartache will fade away, just like every storm runs, runs out of rain.”
I think I’ll hold that in my heart, especially during this rainy spring.
I know that, if the rain starts somewhere, it will end somewhere, too. We may walk into the rain mindfully, prepared with grace and presence, if we’re going in that direction. Or we may find ourselves overtaken while we’re not watching the skies, and thus seeking shelter and a dry pathway.
But this I believe: We will eventually walk out of the rain if we are fleet enough of foot and mind.
May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.
May the blessing of the great rains be on you,
may they beat upon your spirit
and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool
where the blue of heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
~ an Irish Blessing