It rained one recent night, wetting the Adirondack chair I had perched on the first few flagstones that make up the patio my husband Richard and I have just started to lay in the courtyard off our bedroom.
Fat drops plopped on the red sandstone flags, kicking up puffs of fragrant dust until the steady patter darkened the surface of the stone, until the stone glimmered with water and the air smelled wet and alive. It rained until the trellis around the kitchen garden was hung with diamond drops of water, until the tires of passing cars splashed in the sheet-flow on the streets, until the rush and gurgle of rain had the gutters singing again.
The next morning, our rain gauge registered about three-tenths of an inch of rain. Not much, but enough to briefly revive this high-desert valley, where life survives remarkably well on very little water. (Our average annual precipitation–rain and snowmelt combined–is just ten inches. We haven’t reached that average in several years; we’ve been getting more like six or eight inches.)
Perhaps you live where rain is a regular visitor, and you can’t imagine the gratitude we feel for its occasional wetting. To go for weeks or months without life-giving water falling from the sky is to shrivel inside, weary of cloudless day after cloudless day, the ground dusty, the plants brittle, our spirits cranky and out-of-sorts, and the landscape around us silenced as life is silenced.
We wait for rain, for hope, for life’s return.
And when it comes, we are grateful, our faith in life–the capital L stuff, the whole grand cycle of birth and death and dissolution of molecules into atoms that agglomerate eventually into the building blocks of new life–is itself renewed.
For a week after that rain, my wildflower-filled “unlawn” was greener, the scarlet splashes of indian paintbrush and gilia brighter; the blanketflower, Mexican hat and evening-primrose began to bloom again, and the hummingbirds zipped around energetically, their nectar-field renewed.
But no more rain fell, and the brown tinge crept back, the bunchgrasses crisping underfoot, the wildflowers producing fewer and fewer blooms, the soil turning dusty again.
Even still, on cool mornings before dawn, I can smell that rain in the moisture in the air, hear in memory the music of the plopping drops and the gurgling gutters, and feel its promise of abundance in my bones. And I am filled with gratitude. For rain, sporadic as it may be. For life.
Gratitude for the awareness that nudges me to stop and take joy from the rain, the greening of the bunchgrasses, the wildflowers and hummingbirds, and even that hint of moisture remaining on cool mornings before dawn. I treasure those grace notes; they buoy my spirits when this journey we call life is hard–and when it’s not.
What causes you to stop and feel grateful for the gift of life? What are the moments of joy–the grace notes–that buoy your spirits and make the days easier? Write about one, using all of your senses: feel your joy and then describe how you feel, inside and out, how the air smells, what you taste, sense, and hear.
I bow with gratitude for the gift of awareness, and the writing voice to witness to this life. And to you all, for your words and stories.