“The gentle spring rain permeates the soil of my soul. A seed that has lain deeply in the earth for many years just smiles.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you ever thought about how frightened we seem to be of the rain? It rains and we blame it for our bad mood. We run for cover, seemingly convinced we might melt if a rain drop should touch us. We hide from it, stay in doors and even in bed, as though low clouds and water have turned us into bed-ridden wretches.
This morning, after yoga, I said to our instructor Stacey that it was a shame it was raining because I had wanted to go for a walk. Stacey replied, “Oh don’t let that stop you! It’s just a little rain.” I said, “You know, you’re right! We didn’t always have shelter from the rain, did we?” And I began wondering, why are we so scared of the rain? Of getting wet?
Last summer, when I was just beginning my yoga journey, I read a few of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books in succession. He often talked about the rain and the clouds when he talked about oneness. He drove home the point that we are the same as the rain. The rain falls from the sky, feeds the soil, brings us the food that we eat, the air that we breath. And when we die and return to the earth, our bodies break down and we become the soil and part of us is water that goes back up in the sky and eventually rains back down on the earth. Obviously he is more eloquent than I, but it was by way of this explanation that I was able to find a lot of peace in the world. I became less afraid of our conventional ideas of death and more certain that death is a notion and doesn’t really exist. We will never stop existing. We will never die. And how wonderful is that when our bodies are done here, we will return to the Earth and be a reason life continues?
For a while, whenever it rained was when I felt most full of life. A lot of times I would look at the rain and I would think of my ancestors, who are the rain, and I would smile at the rain and say hello to them again, or for the first time. It would be a peaceful and beautiful moment. I can even remember one day, filled with this knowledge and peace, I was reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and considering this cycle of life and I felt a raptuous joy that I have never before experienced in my life. I realized that “death” is beautiful. At that moment I actually thought I might look fondly upon the day that I returned to the Earth. I haven’t felt that since then and it’s an appreciation and feeling I hope to experience again some day.
I’ve digressed a little. So today I decided to go for a walk, rain or no rain. After all, I reminded myself, remember how much beauty I know is in the rain? When I began my walk it was drizzling very, very lightly. Then the rain stopped, but when I turned back onto the last street before mine, the rain started to come down harder and I slowed my pace. I’m sure people maybe thought I was crazy. I was in no hurry to get out of the weather, I was smiling and if it hadn’t been for all the cars and the lack of a sidewalk, I would’ve had my eyes closed too. It felt so good to have the rain coming down and feeling like I had melted into the earth. Feeling it drop on my face and my clothes, each pellet filling me back up with life. I came as close to that moment reading Walt Whitman as I have ever been.
The French have a phrase, “La Joie de Vivre.” It translates to “the joy of living” but it’s common knowledge in French class that the phrase encompasses so much more than the English translation allows. These moments I’ve been fortunate enough to experience… that is la joie de vivre. And they have all been inspired by the rain. That which we shy from so severely.
Let it rain. Run, dance, walk, sing, sit in the rain. Embrace, hug, smile at, appreciate the rain. The rain is in us, the rain is life. Let us love the rain. Let us love life.