I have always enjoyed the sound of rain. I have found it soothing. It’s a day to stay inside. And it’s a great excuse to not work in the garden.
Sitting on the back porch watching a thunderstorm roll in has been a bit of a treat. The sky darkening, the air getting still. I would count the seconds between the lightening and the thunder, calculating the distance that the center of the storm was from my safe perch. (One second, in my mind, would translate into 1/10 of a mile.)
But on Monday night, I felt a bit saddened with the sound. Now, rather than being a peaceful watering of the earth and my garden, the sound of the rain has become a sign of earth’s sickness.
The next morning I contemplated my reaction. If the earth was a sick friend, would I not find a way to celebrate them beyond their illness?
Later that day, on my day’s walk to the bank, I exchanged pleasantries with my in-town neighbor Karen Morris. I complemented her on how well established her flower gardens were after only one year.
“They are just growing well,” she replied.
I continued on my walk.
And then I stopped. Knowing that she is a psychologist and a Buddhist, I turned around and asked if she had a minute.
I told her that my understanding of the rain had changed. What had once given me joy, now causes sadness, as I now believe that the increase in its frequency and ferocity was a factor of a changing climate.
“May I offer you a different perspective?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” I replied, “that’s why I’m telling you this.”
She paused and said, “I agree that the increased rain is due to climate change. And I like to think that the earth is doing what it needs to do to cleanse itself. It has its own rhythm and methods for taking care of itself. Things we don't comprehend. I also think of all of the creatures that rejoice in the rain: the grass, the flowers, the frogs …”
Her perspective was helpful. The earth is doing what it can to cleanse itself. It is taking care of itself in its sickness.
Later, I wondered who rejoices in a drought.
I guess we’re lucky that we live in a region of increased precipitation. I’m really not sure what can be said about intense heat and no rain at all.
Mostly, though, I’m thankful for neighbors. And our community. Even when it rains.