One night a shaman stood in a field, barefoot. The ground was riddled with cracks. He scratched at the dirt a couple of times with the toes of his right foot. A scorpion crawled up from between the cracks in the soil and the shaman grinned as it scurried across his feet. He squatted and placed his left palm in its path. Lifting it, he watched the scorpion’s pincers wave in the air as it sat in his hand, the starlight glinted slightly off its black exoskeleton. He let it go and stood again. The eight stars of Orion’s bow moved into view overhead. He closed his eyes again, and slowed his breathing. His diaphragm expanded as his breathing deepened. The aroma of the air entering his nostrils became heavy, dusty, the scent of an approaching storm. Eyes still closed, he could hear, or thought he could hear, the first drops of water descending through the air, traveling down from thick, dark clouds. They were large drops and they stung a little when they hit his forehead. Lightning danced from cloud to cloud and back. Seconds later its report reached his ears. The rain hit the ground around him like a high-pitched, but muted drumroll. He felt dirt, still dry, fly up from a raindrop and land on his foot. The drops came faster, and he began to feel the dirt moisten. Then mud began to squish up between his toes. There was a second thunderclap, and silence. The shaman opened his eyes. The red star Betelgeuse, which makes up Orion’s right shoulder, was now directly overhead. He began to walk across the dry earth and plant stubble.
Roughly a day later, a half-foot of rain fell on the area.
Most of us don’t have that depth of connection with the water element. Our world is concrete, paved. We spend a chunk of our lives riding, commuting. We schedule things around the weather. Rain is many times an inconvenience. While it’s irrigating fields and our yards it’s making the roads slick. It serves both as a blessing and a danger. We’re not standing on raw land feeling mud squish between our toes. We’re not even standing in our backyards feeling that. We’re driving or riding home in it, probably at night…a thousand things on our minds. In one part of our thoughts we are happy to not have to water our lawns and gardens for a bit. In another part of our thoughts we know we’re going to have to get out in this slop shortly and slosh our way to the door. It’s a borderline love-hate and there’s no escaping it if we continue our urban, rat-racy lives.
I still complain about the rain. I don’t like driving in it, day or night. And living in mild drought areas, when I complain someone is always there to remind me that we ‘need’ the rain. And we do. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over wishing that I didn’t have to get out in it. Maybe the key to that is pausing the rat-race itself. I think what I’ll start doing is to stop and stand in the rain for a couple of minutes before I open my umbrella. I’d rather be on that open field, but until that becomes my reality it’ll have to remain the stuff of vacations. I need to feel the connection to the water, to be happy when it comes, even if the circumstances aren’t what I’d prefer.