Rain, rain, go away... is what we sing, right?
Yes... mostly... especially when I have a houseful of restless kids that I wish I could send outside to do whatever it is kids are supposed to do outside. But in the last week or so, I've been thinking about the rain a little differently.
It's winter in the Bay Area. Christmas Day, to be exact. And it's raining. Buckets. Torrents. Gutter-flooding, mud-shifting, hours of pouring rain. That's what it does around here, usually from about late November or early December, until sometime in late March or early April.
However, we live in a climate where we get NO rain after the rainy season has ended in the Spring. We have gorgeous, sunny, movie-perfect weather for weeks upon weeks upon weeks. The sprinklers kick on every so often, the lawns stay green, and life proceeds in the way that makes the whole world want to pick up and move to Northern California.
But outside the range of sprinklers, something different takes place. The ground on the grassy hills gets hard and packed-down, the drought-hardy native plants grow and then wither through their appointed season, with the grasses and wildflowers drying up and ending their life-cycles in a blaze of sunlit gold while the ever-dark-green valley oaks look on. By October, the hills are achingly beautiful in their sheen of gold against the blue sky that seems to both borrow and reflect the brightness of the sun-baked hills. That's when we enter another season here in paradise: wildfire season. All those beautiful months of nothing but sunshine have left the landscape gasping for the relief of rain and threatening to burst into flame at the slightest ignition.
Boy, have I felt that way at times...
If I'm perfectly honest, looking back over so many "sunny" pieces I wrote before Andre's death, I have to say that I was living in that artificially-sprinkled dry season, sustained by whatever moisture I could find, working hard at staying "green" on the outside. If there were people in my inner circle who could see that the "green" in my life was closer to astroturf or green-painted concrete, I never heard about it.
And so we have arrived at the rainy season in my life, and I am having a hard time not letting the mud get all over my soul's carpets. The rainy season here, when it comes, is at once disruptive, overwhelming, occasionally destructive... and a source of astounding, miraculous transformation. We watch the sun set on a Cezanne / Provencal landscape and wake up in an Irish travel poster: from sun-bleached golds, browns, and ochres, to deep, velvety emerald and evergreen, almost overnight. The rain changes dust-scapes to lush meadows and causes houses to slide off their foundations. It awakens wildflowers and causes traffic crashes. It ruins outdoor plans and makes me want to pause for a cup of tea in a cozy chair by the window.
I was living in that desperately dry "lovely weather" season for quite a while, about to go up in flames, it felt like, and now the rains have come in my life. Much of that rain has been disruptive, some in a horrifying way, and some of it in a good way, but disruptive and threatening nonetheless.
So, I'm wondering today, what if, just for a while, I could acknowledge that I'm in the midst of a pouring-down-torrents-that-drench-to-the-bone rainy season in my life, acknowledge that it feels like the house of my spirit might get washed off its foundation any minute, AND look at that rain as a blessing? I am indeed, greening up again. My life is being watered more deeply now than at any time I can remember. I can't help but see transformation, even if the rain feels overwhelming. I can complain about the rain, or I can focus on the transformation and choose to trust that even if my retaining walls get washed away, I'll rebuild when the rain stops.
This new friend of mine, the one who told me that my passionate side is a gift (see my previous post ), has been opening my eyes to a new appreciation of the guitar work of BB King, Buddy Guy, and John Baldry. This song by John Hiatt (performed by Buddy Guy and Bonnie Raitt in the youtube clip below) has a title and a decidedly sensual mood that has gotten me to thinking about this concept of rain being a blessing.
(Note to friends: Point me in the direction of stuff that challenges my brain, or touches my heart and you just might end up in my blog. Whether that's a threat or a promise is up to you, I guess. :-)
Sorry, no ethereal, angelic hymns full of air, light and Holy Infants today. Today, we're walking on the muddy earth, drawing music from a slightly different source.
Feels Like Rain - John Hiatt (performed by Buddy Guy and Bonnie Raitt
Feels Like Rain (lyrics - first verse)
Down here the river meets the sea
And in the sticky heat I feel you open up to me
Love comes out of nowhere baby, just like a hurricane
And it feels like rain
And it feels like rain
(and then the last verse says)
Batten down the hatches baby
Leave your heart out on your sleeve
It looks like were in for stormy weather,
That aint no cause for us to leave
Just lay here in my arms
And let it wash away the pain
Feels like rain
And it feels like rain.
******** Come on in, but take off your shoes and let me lend you some slippers, ok? ******