on water in an arid land

For more than a week now, we have had gentle rains, clouds and fog, and heavy, heavy dews in our desert. One morning, the fog was so low and the dew so heavy that the fences bore big droplets of water on every tine and connecting point at daybreak, and the sandy soil—while not pocked with droplets yet—lay still, damp, in hues of a deeper brown than usual, and for all the world looked as eager as I did for the rain again to fall.  Within hours it did. The fog kept us company until it came.

These are not the heavy downpours of late summer, the ones that cut wide rivers through the homestead and take out our roads, leaving us stranded on whichever side of the flood we happen to be when it starts. These are gentle, a steady sprinkling of raindrops from the sky—sometimes barely perceptible, as when the fog rolls down, and sometimes feel-able (when standing full in it, face up), but never what you could call a shower—and it goes on for hours, even days, whole nights.

For people of an arid land, the dryscapes are home, but water is always welcome. We bless rain when it comes, curse rain when it buries the only road in or out in six feet of muddy slush, revel and dance in rain even in mid-cuss. Having these mornings of heavy dew, though, as if we were in the Namib Desert, perched along a great ocean and beneficiaries of its skies? That is astonishingly welcome, a true wonder, and I can’t help but look at the whole world and think: if this is possible, my, what else might be lurking in the unexpected, patiently awaiting its moment to appear?

People get hung up on our own humanity some days, it seems to me, trapped in the desperations, the struggles, the great never-ending battles to fix things. Even our tools for getting un-hung up (meditation and other spiritual practices) become warrior-like on occasion. Well, perhaps I should limit that all just to myself: I surely do this at times: approaching life as if it were one long set of battles and campaigns, maneuvers and kick-ups. Given our perches in one neck of reality while here, of course, there are plenty of battles to fight and not one lick of good sense emerges from denying that.

And yet there are all these unspeakable wonders, droplets of water catching the fence and holding on for hours, even though nary a drop of actual rain has fallen for the whole night through? That stills the effort, stills the working mind, stills the incessant need to do, and offers a window into the timeless, ever-changing nature of this earth. And alongside all this, I can abide, it comes to me strong, and I feel lucky—even when being assailed from other angles—so grandly lucky to be alive. I wish for you a string of raindrops today.