Saloma Miller Furlong
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Rainy Days

We’re having a rainy day here in the Shenandoah Valley. It’s an all-day soaker. A month ago we needed a rain like this when our lawns were turning brown in the drought we were having. We were praying for rain. Today things were already green, so we are not in need of it as much.

A day like this makes me turn inward and reflect. I’ve been thinking about how rain shows up in our literature and in our sayings. Of course there is the one I learned when I was very young about someone talking to the rain, asking it to go away and come back another day because little Tommy wants to play. But the rain didn’t stop me from going out and playing when I was a little girl… I loved to go out and splash in the puddles in my bare feet in a summer rain.

Then there is the saying that we should save money for a rainy day. I understand saving food for a rainy day… especially in the days when people would forage for food in the wild, and later their cultivated gardens. Just today when I was making squash soup for lunch, I was glad we’d harvested enough parsley so I didn’t have to go out in the rain to get some. But where did the idea come from to put money away for a rainy day… do we spend more money on rainy days, or is this one of those metaphors that equate rain with sorrow or sadness or need?

There is the song with the first line, “Raindrops keep falling on my head,” in which rain is equated with the blues.

Back when I was living in Ohio as a teenager, I did not like rainy days. By then I had become a work horse to Mem, so it meant I had to do “indoor” work in the semi-darkness of a gray day. And it seemed like there were so many of those “dreab” days. Today I am grateful for shelter from the rain, and for Nature watering our garden. It is a good reminder that without the rainy days, I tend to take the sunny ones for granted. It is nature’s way to have those clear days without a cloud in the sky, those days when there are clouds floating by with blue skies above them, those days when there is a mixture of sun and rain when we are blessed by the Beauty of a rainbow, with the eternal reminder of Hope, and then there are days when the gray clouds hover above and drop rain down on Mother Earth. We need all these kinds of days, just as we need all kinds of experiences to feel fully alive.

It reminds me of the poem I learned as a young Amish girl, “God hath not promised.” At least I thought it was a poem, but today I discovered it is also a song. Here is rendition of it by the Mennonite Hour Singers.

I would never have chosen the hardships or struggles in my life. Rather, they chose me. It seemed I needed to learn lessons from them. Today I wonder whether there is a collective lesson humans need to learn from the pandemic. None of us would have chosen this, but since it is here to stay, at least for some time, what is it we can learn from it? I yearn to get together with others and receive embodied hugs, not figurative ones. I want to go to church and hear the voices singing so lustily that we raise the roof on our church each Sunday. I long to look in my friends faces as we have heart-to-heart talks. I want to do these things without fear that we are going to perpetuate this illness. And yet what is called for is “safe distance.” I mourn the loss of all these things.

I know one thing I learned from this. If in my lifetime, I have the privilege of experiencing these things again, I will never take them for granted again. I have learned that these are precious things that deserve my gratitude and joy.

I wonder, what else am I taking for granted in my life that I would miss terribly if it was no longer part of my everyday experience? I know the answer to that question. I know I take the love of my life for granted during these months of getting so few breaks from one another as we shelter in place. If David was not “in there with me” right now, I would miss him more than I can allow myself to imagine. I need to thank him every day for being here with me.

So these are my rainy day reflections.

What associations do you have with rainy days?

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