Even at noon the house is dark.
In my room under the eaves
I hear the steady benevolence
of water washing dust
raised by the haying
from porch and car and garden
and purified, as if tonsured.
The grass resolves to grow again,
receiving the rain to that end,
but my disordered soul thirsts
after something it cannot name.
~Jane Kenyon from “August Rain, After Haying”
A long-awaited string of rainy days have arrived and like the ground and plants, I look skyward letting the clouds drip on me and I am washed of dust.
Will I restore like the brown and dying blade of grass, turning green and lush in a matter of days?
Is there enough benevolence from the sky to cleanse and settle the grime, and still yield more harvest of food and fodder? Will this replenish my soul enough that I can resolve to grow again?
I thirst for what I cannot name. The mystery is, I’m filled, left dripping and ready.
Open the window, and let the air
Freshly blow upon face and hair,
And fill the room, as it fills the night,
With the breath of the rain’s sweet might.
Not a blink shall burn to-night
In my chamber, of sordid light;
Nought will I have, not a window-pane,
‘Twixt me and the air and the great good rain,
Which ever shall sing me sharp lullabies;
And God’s own darkness shall close mine eyes;
And I will sleep, with all things blest,
In the pure earth-shadow of natural rest.
The rain returned briefly this weekend – a blissful reminder of God’s intent to refresh and replenish us when we are at our driest.
It is sweet to fall asleep listening in the dark to the patter of raindrops after weeks of drought.
I’ll make sure to remember the relief I felt these nights while grumbling and sloshing around in the fortieth day of rain this winter.
When will I be satisfied there is enough but not too much?
~~when God’s own darkness closes my eyes in natural rest and His glory opens my eyes to the illumination of eternity.
In the meantime, let it rain – preferably as I sleep.
The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
August has been particularly wearing on so many folks this year, aging us beyond recognition after weeks of smoke-filled horizons. Those whose forests and homes have burned have nothing but cinders to return to. My concerns are mere in comparison, as the ash sent forth from such destruction is only irritant and inconvenience, rather than the residue of lost life.
Yet no one thrives in a world of fire and ash as we go gray as the sky, as if we have lived one summer too many.
I dream of what was: green and lush foliage and cool rains with the occasional welcome glimpse of a yellow, rather than red, sun.
Color the gray away to thwart the inevitable? Not this woman. I await a different beauty, even if only in my dreams…
Spun silk of mercy,
sun urging purple blossoms from baked stems.
What better blessing than to move without hurry
Lugging a bucket to the rose that became a twining
house by now, roof and walls of vine—
you could live inside this rose.
I want to know the root goes deep
on all that came before,
you could lay a soaker hose across
your whole life and know
there was something
under layers of packed summer earth
and dry blown grass
Parched as I might feel,
drying and fragile,
crumbling at the edges
there is still the hope of my roots down deep
for some moisture to bring me backso I can once again
And on those hot afternoons in July,
when my father was out on the tractor
cultivating rows of corn, my mother
would send us out with a Mason jar
filled with ice and water, a dish towel
wrapped around it for insulation.
Like a rocket launched to an orbiting
planet, we would cut across the fields
in a trajectory calculated to intercept—
or, perhaps, even—surprise him
in his absorption with the row and the
turning always over earth beneath the blade.
He would look up and see us, throttle
down, stop, and step from the tractor
with the grace of a cowboy dismounting
his horse, and receive gratefully the jar
of water, ice cubes now melted into tiny
shards, drinking it down in a single gulp,
while we watched, mission accomplished.
~Joyce Sutphen “Carrying Water to the Field”
It was a special responsibility to carry cold water out to my father when he was on the tractor. Yes, he could have carried a thermos-full along with him all day but then he would not have seen his daughter walking carefully from the house over the fresh-turned dirt, he would not have an excuse for a short break to wipe the sweat from his face or survey the straightness of the furrows, he would not have lifted her up to sit beside him on the tractor and allowed her to “drive”, steering down the rows, curving around the killdeer nests so their young are spared.
Such a special responsibility to nurture someone hard at work who doesn’t stop to refill themselves. It happens rarely any more – whether field or factory or the family home. What wondrous love to carry water to those who thirst; what wondrous grace fills furrowed lives.
Experiencing the present purely is being emptied and hollow;
you catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall.
~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
I am often unprepared for the rush of challenges each clinic day brings and lately far into the night.
Each call, each message, each tug on my arm, each box of kleenex handed over, each look of hopelessness — I empty continuously throughout the day to try to fill the deep well of need around me. If I’m down and dry, hollowed to the core with no more left to give, I pray for more than I could possibly deserve.
And so it pours over me, torrential and flooding, and I only have a mere cup to hold out for filling. There is far more cascading grace than I can even conceive of, far more love descending than this cup of mine could ever hold, far more hope ascending from the mist and mystery of doctoring, over and over again.
I am never left empty for long. The hollow is hallowed, filled to the brim and spilling over.
And when the Sun comes out,
After this Rain shall stop,
A wondrous Light will fill
Each dark, round drop…
~William Henry Davies from “The Rain”
I wouldn’t mind mud in August, just once, to see what is brown become lush and green overnight.
How sweet it would be to see copious tears spilling unchecked from a shrouded heaven.
Instead I must settle for one morning of northwest drizzle. An emerging sun illuminates these perfect round spheres with wondrous light as they roll off leaves and petals to huddle puddled together in community on the ground, only to evaporate by mid-day.
However, the wait for rain is never too long in this land of mush and mud ten months out of the year.
Rain will come sooner than I can imagine; soon again I will see a glistening crystalline reflection of the universe in a droplet.
The Living Water is always undimmed, its taste ambrosial.