Here in upstate New York, springtime felt like one continuous rain shower. At one point, I was positive moss was beginning to inhabit my feet. You could never seem to maintain dry for long. Sweet relief, or so we thought, arrived with a late summer bloom that would prove to bring with it some of the hottest days on record. Today, however, we were granted a reprieve. An afternoon thunderstorm that allowed us to dim the hum of the air conditioner and open the windows to the almost spiritual awakening of hot summer rain. Immediately, I was transported to a childhood memory that arrived at a time when I too could benefit from a bit of sweet relief.
As ominous, Wyeth grey thunderheads stalked towards us like predatory mist, the scent of electric ozone and hot pavement signaled a primitive response to head for shelter. The contrast of bright orange canvas beach chairs against the cool, concrete garage floor was a ritualistic refuge taken to by myself and my father during the house rocking thunderstorms of summer. To ease my anxious mind, dad would portend the forbidding rumble was merely the angels bowling.
I didn’t realize it then of course, but an important life lesson was taking place. The storm rolling towards us was the perfect subtle catalyst for learning how to weather the crests and troughs of life.
Armed with wry humor, and a deck of worn cards, my dad’s delicate life lessons would play out gracefully. He made it a habit of never letting me, or my sisters, “win” at games. A very literal metaphor of learning to live with what life deals you. You don’t win or lose at life after all. It’s just about staying present in the game. You can’t always predict your opponent’s move, but you can adapt to it.
Today, a feeling of comfort and familiarity arrives with a storm. As if it’s awakening me while quelling something at a subconscious level. A transient, subtle spell to relieve the negative thought patterns that keep us from being present.
Perhaps, it’s the transient nature of the storm that allows us to transcend our current frame of mind. There is a suspended animation that happens within me at the first inhalation of soporific rain. I tend to stop whatever I am doing, open the nearest window, and just breathe a sigh of relief.
All too often I hear the phrase, “dancing in the rain,” as a metaphor for getting through the challenges of life. While having a positive attitude in difficult times may be helpful, are we missing a lesson? Maybe, the challenge is meant to startle and reshape us at the most basic level?
Instead, I propose to just stop and be like stone. Don’t move, don’t analyze. Be the steadfast stone in the middle of the river. Allow life to reshape you, and soothe your rough edges, until you can roll to the place in the river where you resurface anew. Still. Smooth. Ready for the next bowling lesson with angels.