When rain falls soft but constant, when my heart has been in shreds for days, when words don’t fit the magnitude of all that is in my head, what can I do but step into the garden barefoot? The damp soft earth bends beneath my feet, carries my weight and the weight of all I carry. Raindrops kiss my head, nose, fingertips. I pause underneath a tree, branches heavy with rain. There I am cradled as Wendell Berry rises to my lips: “I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.”
I keep on moving, going deeper in, the white roses jostling for attention, the drooping hellebores past their prime, the gladioli singing their colors with all their might. The grass gives way to a herringbone pathway, bricks, dirt, stones, wood chips. I stoop by the strawberry patch where some have turned color already. I place one of those little red-hearted treasures on my tongue, bits of dirt clinging to its skin and rubbing against my teeth.
I keep on going in, my body leading me into birdsong. They sing, sing, sing all day long, rain or sunshine, with every ounce of their being. I catch a glimpse of one, a flash of color. I have seen and heard these birds before, but today each sweeping dive, each effortless lifting off into flight stuns me into silence.
I almost tread on a slug, brown, fat, and ugly, but happy to be alive and in the rain. The rain pelts his skin but he delights in it, moves his head first one millimeter to the right, pauses, then moves his head back again, over and over, reveling in this wonderful wet world.
I go further, lose myself in the smoky smell of flowers mixed with rain. And the colors…oh the colors! Everything reaches towards heaven: irises, poppies, lilacs, roses, mulberry, sweetpeas, fennel, rhubarb, and all those other names that have drifted out of my memory. The flowers bow when the rain hits them, they nod with the wind. Each sway, each wave of their head is a song of gratitude: Oh how we love living! We will give everything we are to Your praise.
And the ones that are dying say with each petal they surrender to the earth: See, it is okay to die. See how beautifully we die. All those tears running down your face—let them fall. See how they disappear into the rain; they will water the earth and we will rise again.
And I stand there with the rain falling, with all this living glowing green, with all these sparks of purples and blues and reds and pinks and oranges and yellows, with the wet ground soft beneath my feet, with birds singing wild circles of joy all around me, I stand there in the midst of all this life and I sing: Praise praise praise to the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. What can I do but raise my hands, my head, my heart to heaven?
The raindrops fall on my face, soft and gentle. Each one touches my skin with a quiet affirmation: Grace, Daughter, Grace.