Rain Shadows

I have spent hours of my life staring outside of the window looking at the approach and fury of storms. As a child, I often would sit on the porch of the place where I lived on a swing and watch summer thunderstorms rolling regularly at about 3PM or so. Through the screened windows I could smell the fresh scent of rain as well as the slight hint of ozone after a close lightning strike. As I sat down to my computer today, in fact, I noticed the dark shadows falling through the window outside, and then preceded to begin to write as the rain started to fall.

For some reason, I am deeply sensitive to either the presence or the absence of light [1]. My relationship with light, as is true with so much else, is somewhat ambivalent. I tend not to see very well in darkness, which is somewhat ominous given that I am clumsy even under the best of circumstances. I also do not happen to see very well in direct light either, finding it blinding. As a result, I tend to seek out the shade or indirect light, or most prefer those times (usually in the cool of the evening) where daylight is fading but not entirely gone as being the most comfortable for me. When it comes to light, then, like my favorite animal (the striped skunk [2]), I am a crepuscular sort of person who clearly has a niche that avoids both total light and total darkness but finds my place in the spaces in between.

When I was a young adult, I spent a substantial portion of one summer in Western Pennsylvania with my father and grandmother. Most of the time, my experiences in summer had seen mostly sunny skies with the occasional front-driven rainstorm that would be followed by the sight of verdant hills and forests. Unfortunately, that particular summer was constantly rainy and cloudy, for over a month it was dreary and gray constantly, in the one season of the year where the sky was reliably blue. The constant damp weather hindered the ability of hay to stay dry and threatened the survival of our family’s cattle, who depended on the hay we grew to stay alive through the long, dark, cold winter. In the end, we were unable to square bale the hay but had to round bale it and take a substantial loss in the amount of hay we were able to grow.

A couple of years ago, I worked in a rainy part of the world, and one of my coworkers introduced me to a song by ELO [3] called “Mr. Blue Sky.” As might make sense for an Englishman, this particular band sang a song about the glorious feeling of happiness that one finds when the sun peaks out of the clouds. It is an experience that my neighbors and I here in the Pacific Northwest understand well also, the feeling of joy at seeing the sunshine after the rain. My own experiences in England, one year when I went there for summer camp as a teenager, were definitely full of rain, to the point where there was frequent flooding in Coniston, where the lakes are in the sky and continually fall to the earth, as I was warned by a native Brit before going, but had to see to believe for myself. Despite the falling rain, I was moved by the beauty of the place (and, I must admit, some of the young ladies there) to wax rhapsodic in poetry.

I remember as a child that, wherever I was, I would enjoy playing in the rain, whether it meant making little dams out of rock or sand to capture the rain in little reservoirs (to the annoyance of family members who would have to drive over what they thought to be speed bumps). Nowadays, I look out at the rain and think of the creaking in my bones or how wet I will get as I hobble from one place to another. It is strange to feel so old and so young at the same time. Adults tend to think of rain as an annoyance, as it makes our clothes wet or leads people to drive poorly, leading to accidents and delays in our travels. Yet it is the rain that makes the land come alive with flowers and trees and grasses. We too are like a dry land awaiting showers of love and affection to make our lands blossom and flourish, rather than remain a dry and dessicated wilderness, bereft of the comfort of a shade tree or the noise and sight of life in glorious bloom.

We cannot choose the times we live in. We cannot choose whether they will be times of ease and comfort or times of struggle and difficulty. All we can choose is how we will live those times, to make the best of circumstances for ourselves and those around us, to not let the harsh weather or difficult times make us harsh or difficult. We cannot arrest the slow passage of time that unevenly makes its effects known on our bodies and minds, but we can at least manage ourselves to make sure that we are living our lives as best as possible, come what may. We cannot choose whether our lives will be lived in the blinding light of glory or the darkness of obscurity or the shadows in between, but we can adapt ourselves to what all of those mean.

Since I began writing this, the rain has ceased, and some blue can be seen as well as some layers of fluffy cumulus clouds. The shadows that fall over our lives need not be for a long time; sometimes it can be only for an instant before the light returns again. Yet sometimes the darkness endures for days, months, or even years, while we struggle to adapt ourselves to the level of light and cope with the realization that what we thought would be passing and evanescent would last far longer than we could ever have anticipated. Yet the darkness will pass, and the light will pass. Each time has its own purpose, its own rhythm, its own use. How then are we to make the best use of the times we have been given, to appreciate all things in their order, whatever our preferences. For there is time for both light and shadow in this world, a purpose and a season for everything.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/lest-darkness-fall/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/the-darkness-around-us-is-deep/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/hearts-of-darkness/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/i-long-for-those-who-say-yes-for-yes-and-no-for-no-for-a-light-without-shadow/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/no-sunlight/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/the-harsh-light-of-day/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/wasted-light/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/as-long-as-i-see-the-light/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/shadow-and-light/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/you-can-see-the-early-signs-of-daylight-fading/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/my-head-is-an-animal/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/negev-bloom/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/the-nose-knows/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/the-norweigian-snow-kitty/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/dont-stand-so-close-to-me/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-elo-jeff-lynne-traveling-wilburys/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rain Shadows

  1. Pingback: A Family Of Trees Wanted To Be Haunted | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Heavy Weather | Edge Induced Cohesion

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