Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Rainy Day Spirituality

"Raindrops
- At the Desert Retreat House -


We are experiencing some very unusual weather out here in the desert. Normally, at this time of year the skies are crystal blue, the sun is shining and the temperatures are in the low 70’s. It is the kind of “almost perfect” weather that makes people from all around the world want to come out here and spend a few weeks in the middle of winter- that’s why there are so many tourists visiting in this desert region during this season.  All the hotels are filled and the population is more than doubled.

But today it’s cold and damp and rainy here. In fact the forecast is for rain (sometimes heavy) to continue over the next few days or more.

Yesterday I overheard a conversation among some visitors who had come out to the desert for a winter vacation. They were lamenting their fate, furious over their misfortune: "it’s not supposed to rain like this here. We have been planning this trip for months and now what are we going to do? I guess we’ll just stay in the hotel room, close the drapes and watch TV.”

As I listened to this conversation I was half- tempted to interrupt and tell them that this rain may actually be a great gift for them -  a highlight of their vacation. Instead of going to their hotel and closing the drapes, they should put on a raincoat and go out for a walk on a wilderness trail.

In fact, for those of us who live here, rainy days are a welcome gift. We need the rain in this time of serious drought, but more than that, rainy days give us an opportunity to see the world with fresh new eyes. Rainy days are invitations that pull us out of the rut of routine and cause us to pay closer attention to the surprises the world has to offer as the unexpected rain falls and the shadows of thick dark clouds color the normally “blindingly bright” desert terrain.

I remember something I read in one of my books of Buddhist essays:

Today it’s raining, think of the possibilities!
On a day like this you might see red, yellow or green traffic lights
beautifully reflected in puddles and on wet pavement.
You might see raindrops hanging from a railing or an overhead wire.
You might see two people holding hands
as they walk in the rain under a bright green umbrella.

As you sit inside on a rainy day look for the soft shadows and muted colors.
You might even sit and look at the world through the raindrops on a window
and see the landscape in a new way through odd-shaped rainbow lenses.

I have come to really love rainy days in the desert.  They offer me a rainy- day spirituality. These rainy days teach me to be more alert, always open to all the beautiful surprises life has to give. They also teach me that sometimes, even when stuff happens in life that you don’t want to happen, these unwanted moments may also offer unexpected gifts. For the most part, life is beyond my control -  I certainly can’t make the rain stop, so why not simply enjoy it?

I find great wisdom in something Eckhart Tolle once said:

Whatever the present moment contains,
accept it as if you had chosen it.
Always work with it, not against it.
Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.
Say yes to life and see how it suddenly starts working for you
rather than against you.

I’m sitting inside my house on this rainy day, looking out at the wilderness through the odd-shaped rainbow lenses of the raindrops that have formed on my window.

Today it’s raining, think of the possibilities.

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