Max and I went bowling tonight. It is one of our favorite things to do. In the space of the drive home, the sky turned from bright dusk to the most amazing shade of dark. The sky still lit up from a sun which had refused to set was transformed by smoke grey clouds. “Look Max,” I said, my voice quivering with excitement. “It is going to storm”. And then lightening in the distance turned the sky hot pink and fat rain drops fell.
We talked about hurricanes on the short ride home. Max had heard about the ones hitting Texas and Mexico and was worried. Did we ever get hurricanes here? What happens in hurricanes? Why are they dangerous? What is the difference between a hurricane and a thunder storm? I told him the story of the hurricane that hit our area when he was just a toddler. It was not a fierce hurricane and we were far enough inland that we faced a weakened beast but it was still scary nevertheless. I told him how we lost power for a week and how trees were uprooted and how the park looked completely different and we had to find new ways to get into town while everything was rearranged.
The sound of rain can always give me pause, hold me still. Rain, when it comes like this, strong and steady, with wind and thunder, feels magical to me. I listen for the subtle differences in how the rain sounds, on my roof, on the trees, against the window. The thunder and lightening that announced this storm have passed but the rain continues, filling rain barrels, restoring gardens, washing away soot, dust, pollen, dislodging leaves and broken tree limbs and making it all clean and light.
Max huddled under the covers at bedtime tonight. “I am scared mama” he whispered over and over. I wrapped my arms around him and snuggled him tonight and promised him that while he was frightened, no harm would come to him. Storms can be terrifying but they are ultimately good. Storms can clean us out. Storms can make us new again. Storms can make messes and can radically change the landscape of our hearts but storms fill up the wells and give new hope to crops that looked long gone.
I recently had the chance to see an amazing documentary film that will be making its theatrical debut this September. Trouble the Water is a stunning piece of art that not only captured the horror of Hurricane Katrina, the raw injustice that exists in our country and the tragedy caused by the incompetence of the US government but also documented the miraculous transformation of two individuals. It was simultaneously a story of great despair and great hope, of death and rebirth, of facing horrible horrible pain and finding that not only survival but that life blossoms in surprising and amazing ways in the aftermath and that we keep coming back.
This is a theme I keep coming back to, over and over again. Whenever I go through a period like this I have trouble naming my experience, putting it into words. I always have trouble until the rains come and then I know, “aha…yes of course.” The drama of the thunder and lightening have passed, the rain is still falling, softer but steady. I can feel my the landscape of my life transformed. Still the same town, still the same space. But the dead limbs and old trees have been removed. I can feel more light streaming in. I can feel the dust swept away.
I am washed clean of the clutter and am left only with myself. New as I have always been. Transformed into myself again.
May the rains falls soft upon your fields tonight.