Many years ago, our son gave me this card. I love the exuberant joy that fills this child's entire body, head to toe. The inside reads, "Soak it up. Congratulations." I do not recall what he was congratulating me for and, unfortunately, I did not date it. However, I have kept it on a shelf in our family room because of the note he wrote beneath the Hallmark sentiment. He asked me, "Do you play in the rain?"
Although I did not intend to make my daily sunrise walks a spiritual practice, it has become just that. I do it because I enjoy it and, slowly, I have noticed a difference in how I am able to move through the day with greater peace and awareness of God's presence regardless of what circumstance collides with my well-planned day. There is something to be said about a daily rhythm that begins with a simple walk through whatever force of nature greets me that morning. The "practice" part is now becoming more apparent as the weather becomes a bit less favorable.
I have had a few recent days that were dry but very chilly at 7:15 in the morning. Two days last week were a bit warmer with a steady rain. I am accumulating the necessary attire to support me in my desire to show up, five mornings a week, regardless of the environment. I thought of my son's question last Friday morning as I walked alone in a somewhat drenching rainfall. My pants became wet at the ankles, my shoes approached the stage of "squishy", my right shoulder (uncovered by my umbrella) began to absorb the wet. But I kept walking barely aware that "normal" people might not think it a good morning for a walk. All of the fall leaves and mums are gone. There is an abundance of wheat and copper color foliage and, in some places, bright red berries. The coming winter brings such clarity and simplicity in the midst of a barren landscape.
What does it mean, really, to "play in the rain"? I have had life seasons in which there have been little sense of play. Hard circumstances surrounded me and the concept of play, joy, and frivolity seemed well beyond reach. It almost seems an insult to be asked that question in those times. But, this card has served as a constant reminder. As I walked in the rain on Friday, I felt an answer bubbling up. Yes, I have learned ways to allow joy and play into circumstances that would have made that choice quite a challenge a few years ago. Then there are days when the rain is pounding and heavy. The idea of play or taking it in stride is nearly impossible and, honestly, would seem inauthentic if I declared play as an option.
So as I walked in the rain that morning remembering summer days filled with sunshine and abundant foliage, I realized that while playing in the rain is often more possible than we think, sometimes simply showing up in the rain and putting one foot in front of the other as best we can is just enough.
How do you play in the rain? As we enter into this season of gratitude, perhaps it is an opportunity to find ways to say "thank you" especially on those days when your particular rainfall seems heavier than you think you can absorb. Can you find a seed of playful hope waiting to be embraced? And, then, there are those times when unrelenting waves of sadness pour down upon us without relief. In those times, it seems best to simply experience it for what it is. We reach out to a friend for support, call on God who companions us through everything, and hold out hope that we will learn how to play in that new land by showing up every morning (always beginning again) and putting one foot in front of the other. It is my deepest prayer that AWBA can companion you in some of those places on your journey. It is why we exist.