It's been raining in New Mexico for the last couple of days, and it has been so good for my soul.
I grew up in Arizona, where the rain was a rare gift. When it rained I was energized and happy. I loved it! I have so many fond memories of playing outside in a swimsuit during monsoon season, splashing in puddles and enjoying every second. The smell of the desert after the rain will always be one of my favorites.
In 2012 I left Arizona for the East Coast. My husband and I had 2 kids under the age of 5 and we moved across the country so he could start professional school. It was the wildest thing we had done so far, and I was so excited. All 4 seasons! Rain! Cold weather! East Coast cities! So many fun things to do and a brand new adventure!
We moved to Philadelphia in July of 2012. Hurricane Sandy greeted us in October 2012 and it was a big part of our first Autumn on the East Coast. I still remember watching the big trees contorting and swaying in almost impossible ways down in the courtyard between apartment buildings. We had a large glass sliding door and a very small balcony. I was so afraid that the trees would snap and break through the glass. I didn't know what was worse: fearfully watching the trees move, hoping they wouldn't break and fall through the window, or having the curtains closed and hearing loud noises that sounded like trees snapping -- not knowing if it was our trees or not. We had never experienced anything quite like this. The next morning there were fallen trees all over our little township. Just across the street from our apartment complex there were homes and apartments without power for weeks. We were so very lucky!
Then came winter. I'd never experienced a winter where everything dies and you don't see the sun for weeks at a time. In Arizona, the sun shown year round. "Winter blues" became a very real thing. It would rain often and everything was dead and brown. Going outside wasn't an option and we would often look down into our courtyard to a rainy view like this picture. It was awful. It took me a good month or two to realize that the weather was seasonal and it would eventually pass, but let me tell you... that was a rough winter.
I remember having days where the sun peeked its head through the clouds. Those were good days. Strangers were friendlier. People were smiling. There was joy in the air and it was almost tangible. It was incredible to see what a little bit of sun could do to the mood of just about everyone you met.
All of these thoughts led me to an experience I had recently while driving. I saw the most magnificent rainbow! At first it was very large and very close. Then as I kept driving I was able to see this:
My thoughts were immediately drawn to a dear friend who is going through some incredibly challenging trials... and has been for years. I thought of my favorite poem, and I wanted to share that with you.
The Rainy Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's life was not an easy one. He lost his first wife when she died after having a miscarriage in 1835. He wrote this poem in 1841. In 1843 he remarried and had six children with his second wife. She died after her dress caught fire in her home, leaving Longfellow alone with his children after only 18 years of marriage. Two years later in 1863, his son was injured during the Civil War. This is what inspired him to write "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." There's more to that story, but we'll save that for another day.
So as it continues to rain here in otherwise sunny New Mexico, I'll keep thinking of how we all need a little rain in our life sometimes. And just like rain nourishes the earth and helps things to grow, our challenges help us grow by teaching us things we otherwise might not have learned. Our challenges are not comfortable. We don't need to like them. Just like the rain, they often ruin plans. Sometimes the rain lasts so long we forget what the sun looks like. But it's there, shining behind the clouds. And if you wait long enough, you'll see it again.