When the Heavens Open

Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the Earth; without rain there would be no life. ~ John Updike

I’m sitting at our wooden table, my hair wrapped in a towel. Driving rain is drumming against the window in sheets, rushing down our road in torrents that have turned the front lawn into a boggy water feature and the pavements into streams. In all my life, I have never seen rain like this in Scotland, not even in winter.

Ten minutes ago I was standing on the terracotta tiled steps of our recessed front porch, watching the water bouncing six inches off the ground and pounding the roof of our car, parked in the drive a few feet away. As I stood, mesmerised by the sound, my bare feet getting splashed as the gutter above started to overflow, the overflow became a cascade and our front door became the dark entrance to a secret haven behind a waterfall. My young son joined me, his eyes huge and longing to venture out. “Off you go then.” I said. “Just take off your T- shirt first….”

He stared at me in amazement, stripped down to his football shorts, then ran squealing around the car, splashing in the pond that had once been the drive in front of our garage. He stood giggling under the gushing gutter hopping up and down and flapping his arms, pretending to sing in the shower. I looked on with longing.

My husband brought him a warm towel when he came in shivering but beaming, dripping pools onto our wooden floor. “You should try it Mum!!!” So I did.

I ran out of the kitchen door onto our back patio, lifted my face to the heavens, raised my arms, smiled, turned a slow spiral and got soaked to the skin. Surrounded by the dense green of rain-battered bushes, hair clinging to my face, the rain streaming down my cheeks like a warm shower, my T-shirt and jeans growing waterlogged, I stood sodden in splattering, gushing water up past my ankles. A prayer rose unbidden as I looked upwards and tasted the rain. Breathing in the heavy perfume of rain-drenched branches, soil and air, I felt connected to life itself, alive, lucky, blessed…

A hot shower, some warm towels and a change of clothes later, I’m sitting at my laptop, thinking, as I write, of parched lands where the rain never falls and of flooded fields, farms, villages – even city streets in wealthy countries – where wild winds, rivers and tidal waves have washed away life itself.

For some, the gift of childhood wonder is a luxury in the struggle for survival.