Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When the Rain Falls

Reminiscences from a Midwest deluge, written in July 2015...
"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It has been an unusually rainy early summer here in the U.S. Central Midwest. It has rained uncontrollably while forest fires rage in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. This contradiction has not been lost on us and as if to punctuate the schizophrenic nature of weather patterns the jet stream one day brought the fires' combustion our way, coloring our skies an eerie Dijon-mustard yellow brown before more rain came to wash away the haze. We all were asking ourselves, "What the hell is next?"

We have had more rain than Seattle. I've begun to imagine I have been temporarily transported to the birthplace of Grunge, the home of coffee as a birthright and the Space Needle, though I've yet to find a farmer's market nearby where salmon are tossed like rugby quancos for the enjoyment of the tourists. I have learned to relish the rain as it arrives, often in sheets followed by steady, soaking downpours.

I've never been to New Zealand but I imagine our region looks much like the land of Kiwi Russell Crowe, that is, except for its mountains, coastlines, fjords and imposing rock faces.

Much of the Central Midwest has been transformed to a verdant sea of green - and only green. Our flora eagerly await the sun for rebirth, blooms and petals having been struck down by the torrents of the past few weeks. It is as if a swarm of locusts have descended upon our gardens to strip away the succulent colors we anticipated during the grays of winter. It has been a season of contradictions, flash floods here as we watch the news of our neighbors to the Northwest battle against devastating firestorms. Nature, as Nature will, deceived us with Fall-like weather in June followed by these buckets-full of H2O to take GREEN to new and spectacular levels of so many shades, virescents,  glaucous green, jade, pea, a pantone-matching-system color wheel of emerald delights.

It has rained and poured, for days over days over days. Fed by tropical storms, the eternal battle of north-south weather patterns, front against front, high pressure versus low, Mother Nature has us imprisoned in a seemingly eternal vortex of wet and wetter with no escape in sight.

This is when I notice my recovery journey kicking in.

I accept the rain in my own way, envisioning as I trample through puddles I am transported to a far-off land of everlasting rainfall. Walks taken between storms, especially through wooded areas take on a mystical aura. I am noticing things previously ignored, like the gaps and clogs in gutters I had been so conveniently disregarding for who knows how long.

We in the Midwest are facing a stress test of our resolve to remain positive, to adapt, perhaps change, and keep moving.

Many are being tested beyond human endurance, beyond what one could imagine any human spirit can withstand. There have been levies failing, lives and homes uprooted. For these, the metaphor of mystical places and transportation to exotic locales is unfelt. For these the rain has brought with it a struggle for survival.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As we approach the midpoint through July the rain has gone, dark clouds have been replaced by blue skies, the long-awaited blooms are once again atop previously naked stems. We're anticipating midwestern summer normalcy: heat alerts, drought-like conditions, occasional pop up summertime thunderstorms.

The front has moved eastward toward Kentucky where the governor has issued a state of emergency for the Bluegrass State. I am certain aid will be on its way from those just weeks away from enduring the storms. It's what we do as a society, as humanity. Deluge is a shared experience we cannot ignore.

I've learned a lot about rain as a parent of a child whose life has been overtaken by addiction. Rain is inevitable, and brings with it The Good, as well as The Bad. We can learn to SEEK and SEE what is positive when the rain falls. We can choose to see puddles as inconveniences or splash through rain's imprisoned issue like our three-year-old granddaughter as she runs through her "muddy puddles". We can watch in awe the majesty of curtains of moisture released from the heavens rather than cursing the interruptions to our daily lives the rains bring. We do not ignore the decimation constant downpours may bring. We just don't, and can't obsess about it.

The rain will move on to bring new challenges and vistas - and so must we. The rain will leave us so we may experience new dawns and renewed possibilities. There is beauty, wonder and splendor in the rain along with the destruction and sorrow it can bring. The rain can devastate but it can also cleanse and purge preparing the way for new growth, magnificent colors and best of all, hope and rebirth.

When the next front approaches and our lives go into Storm Mode we can become shuttered and isolated or watch and learn about our ourselves and the world around us, We can no more stop our children's missteps or further dives into The Addiction than we can an approaching storm front. [Visualize that absurd image for a minute.] By looking to the beauty of our children and not blaming them for what The Addiction has brought them to we just might see once again the majesty of our boys and girls.

We can learn to look past the deluge to find those muddy puddles of joy, still and deep within our children. We can move on as the storm will - eventually.

There's blue skies - comin' our way!

... keep coming back
"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky." ~ Rabindranath Tagore