Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep…
—Mary Oliver, from “Have You Ever Tried To Enter The Long Black Branches
These are the weeks when it seems that every time I am too busy to think, much less look out a window or step outside, the sun is shining. And every time I have a few minutes to breathe, to walk or ride my bike, it is raining. I grow frustrated and feel stymied as my small windows of opportunity close.
Realizing (eventually) that it is counterproductive to rail at the weather, I wonder what message the rain brings me, what it is calling me to notice.
Monday afternoon, as I drove south on Highway 218, the rain reminded me that it is a life-giver. The fields were a rich loamy black, the ditches vibrantly green, and flowering trees perfumed the air as I passed. On the car’s radio, in-depth reporting about the drought in California offered a necessary counterpoint.
That night, tucked into bed in the home of a friend, rain tapped gently and rhythmically against the windows, splashing through leaves and bouncing off the ground, finally silencing the chorus of tree frogs enough to bring much-needed sleep. Rain is a comforter, a soother.
On Tuesday, driving again, the rain closed in, clouds and mist reducing visibility. My brain was filled with many thoughts and ideas and plans that needed sorting. In this instance, the rain served as an aid to focus.
On Wednesday, the rain helped me set a positive intention for a long day of work. As long as it was raining, why not set to work with a will?
Today, it has rained and will rain again for most of the day, the forecasters say. So I will redirect my plans and spend what free time I have with a friend, being enlightened and energized by art at the museum. And while I may have wished for hard riding or a hike in the woods, I know this, too, will feed my soul.
The rain has been a patient teacher while I have been its reluctant pupil. It has reminded me that life is lived in each moment I inhabit fully. Wishing moments away because they aren’t what I had planned or what my first choice would be is an ungrateful rejection of the gift that each minute brings. It is me, breathing just a little and calling it a life (to borrow from Mary Oliver). For even in those brief moments between obligations, between chores all of the “must dos”, I can throw open the windows and let the air reach my soul. There is no reason to let a little weather stop me.
“No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!
Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself continually?
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?
Well, there is time left –
fields everywhere invite you into them.
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?
Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk.”
(Mary Oliver “Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches”)