LISTENING

When I Was Five
It is a morning of exceptional peace as the day begins. The very air is refreshed and glowing, washed clean by the wild winds and raging waters of localized thunderstorms that tore through the area last evening. I see pictures of piled-up hail and posts of flooded theatres from my friends on Facebook, but for me it was none of those things. I heard the ominous growl of thunder roll in sinuous waves across the sky above my neighborhood and went to the picture window to look at the purple clouds.

Behind the mountains to the west, the golden light of a sunset splashed upward across the underbellies of thunderheads. Closer to my house the sky was purple, roiling with an approaching storm. I thought about the weather as I had seen it on the area news an hour earlier. It had been a day in the high 90’s yet again, with only a 30% chance of rain, and that only if you were lucky enough to experience purely local storms that might not even deliver more than a few lightning strikes and a little sprinkle of quick-to-evaporate water. There wasn’t even a splotch of green storm shape over my area of the state map.

Once again I thought as I looked toward the mountains, that the weather forecasters needed to look out the window more often instead of relying on radar and computers to tell them what was happening, and where. The wind picked up and tossed the limbs of the young Locust trees in the little park across the road, and stirred the tall ornamental grasses and flower bedecked rose bushes of my neighbor’s yard. I opened my front door wide, hoping the outside air was cooling and would clear my house out of stale air conditioning.

Soon rain poured down in absolutely straight lines out my front windows. Not so much as a sprinkle wet the brown patch I had just watered in my back yard. I kept waiting for this strange situation to change. Finally I heard the pattering rainwater climbing over my roof until it teemed down in the back yard as strongly as it was in the front. A few minutes later it was slamming sideways out of a darkened sky into the siding on the back of my house, cutting from an unusual direction and streaming across my little patio.

The wind blew so hard I wondered if my gas grill was going to blow over into the gravel. Lightning flashed ominously and so quickly overhead I wondered what would happen if my house was struck. As quickly as it came, the storm went. It poured rain a couple of additional times before I opened all my windows and went to bed, but nothing like that first onslaught. From somewhere to the west came the scent of growing sage, filling the air with life. The dirt and grass and even the rocks and wood fencing added to the stew of rich smells. I could feel gratitude for the drenching radiating from everything, even my own heart.

This morning I went to pull weeds out of the gravel edging around my property before the sun rose high and found me in the retreating shade of my house. I hate pulling weeds, and I go out very early to avoid the scorching sun. The sun and the heat have been relentless the past couple of weeks.

There was no hint of heat or too much sun in the cool breezes washing over me as I knelt in the gravel earlier. Birds chirped their crisp morning songs as if there was all the time in the world to sing the joy of another day. The weeds pulled more easily than normal from the damp earth. My attitude was patient, my mind unusually empty. I listened reverently to the sounds of the stones clicking and the roots tearing as my breath moved through my nostrils. I felt like a bird, singing in the tree.

Thank you, God. Thank you for this life. Thank you for this day. Thank you for the rain. Thank you. Oh yes, did I remember to tell You? Thank you.

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