The rain is pounding, dripping, falling. This storm has oppressed my city for four days. My heart has felt this way for three or so weeks now. Yes...it is how I feel. I am burdened by clouds. When I try to go places in this weather, my car will fog up on the inside and my wipers continually lose the battle against the waterfall on my windshield. Even though my headlights are on, they just reflect back on all the little raindrops in my mind.
I am here in this rainy city, while my heart is torn up and divided across the distance of hundreds of miles. We humans tie ourselves together. Friendships, love, intimacy, conversation, a shared meal—every little interaction connects us. So many of these connections are starved and soon fade away. For example, the eye contact with the grocer who is ready to leave work, the bubbly waitress who charmed a nice tip from you, the young man who held the door for you but didn't really notice you, lost in his cell phone conversation—all those connections don't grown into fruition. But others we nourish—family, close friends, classmates, co-workers. I have fed many, but only truly nourished some special connections. And, this season, most of those have moved far away from my life.
One I nourished especially. It started out small, seven years ago—a friendship with the new boy in town. These past three or four years it has grown into a deep love, a thick cord between us. So many fruits have come from it already—peace, trust, and companionship, to name a few. Some relationships, when they grow enough, become a covering of sorts, like a tree, to provide protection from the blazing heat of everyday life and the raging winds of life’s struggles—a shelter. But he has moved a lake and a state away, and that shelter seems in many ways to have gone with him…
Now I see the clouds above and feel the rain on my skin. Cold, prickling, forewarning of this winter to come. I feel the winter ice trying to sink its frosty fingers in my soul. I hear the winds and snow whispering fears, tempting me to retreat into indifference to the world—to hide away, secluded, distant from pain.
But there is something in me that is determined to fight back. It is small now, only a weak seed. Grief is at my door, ready to settle in my heart and become a leech to any joy. Plutarch, in “Consolation to His Wife,” warned of this: “In the beginning, everyone welcomes Grief into his house, and then when it has had time to take root and has become a companion and housemate it will no longer depart when the inmates wish it to. It must therefore be resisted...” But how to resist? Plutarch thinks, “…a troubled soul should itself receive support from a robust body.” I agree, and I suppose I find myself resisting grief in this area—I dress up occasionally for the sole reason of looking nice, even though the one who I wish could see me is 550 miles away. This does nourish my soul, a little. But taking care of the body alone does not cure a weary soul.
So I hold onto all I can—promise. I grasp onto the promise of a new life, the promise of love, the promise of what the future brings. Yet now, in this dismal night, promise seems dim and distant, ready to fade away into the shadow of a dream.
But that weak promise is still there now, though hidden away. I cannot see it, but deep inside, pulsing with my heartbeat, there is a little warmth resisting the bitter fears swarming my mind. It is often lost, so small I cannot find it. I need a light to break through and shine on this little seed of hope that is so buried in the dark soil of my circumstances. Perhaps the rains in my heart are good? Perhaps the pain I feel is the seed’s growing pains from soaking in all this water? Will this situation truly help me grow into a better woman? I believe it will—it must. I cannot stay this deep underground forever. And though I know there is hope ahead, and that this will prepare me for days later in my life, right now, in this moment, all I hear is the dripping rain, and all I feel are the cold drops on my skin.