Don't let the rain dampen the spiritual!
I’ve been feeling under the weather lately. Under the weather: it’s a funny phrase. Especially when you consider just how bad the weather has been in the UK recently. Reports suggest that it has been the wettest April on record. The phrase raining cats and dogs doesn’t come near to describing it. The past fortnight has rained cats, dogs, hamsters and guinea pigs! And it’s been all too easy to let the rain dampen my spirits.
Against my better judgement I ventured out for some fresh air in a break between the showers one lunchtime last week. Shortly in to my stroll the sky opened up and a stream poured down on to my rain coat. Yet in spite of the soaking, I felt better for having been outdoors. Back at the computer I tweeted about needing to find spiritual joy in the constant rain. A timely reminder from a twitter Friend (I capitalise the F here for the friend happens to be a Quaker) appeared on screen. The tweet said “We are the rain”; reminding me that the life of the plant revolves around the water cycle. Human life and the natural world are inextricably linked.
When I speak to my dear friend and Faiths Act Fellow Nina, who is a Buddhist, she’s often going hiking; an activity she describes to me as a form of spiritual practice. Nina finds the sacred in the natural world just as easily as in the Temple. The notion resonates with me yet I’m still struggling to find the spiritual value of stormy weather.
A Quaker called Rufus Stone wrote a wonderful passage on beauty and its unbinding ability to break through: “Everything from a dewdrop to Mount Shasta is the bearer of beauty.” But I can’t quite make out anything beautiful breaking through the puddles which litter my path; all I find is damp shoes! That said, the Quaker way continually encourages me, and opens my eyes to the beauty which exists all around. When overgrown branches brush against the windows of the top deck of the bus, or the simple pleasure of running a hand through a patch of lavender and breathing the scent; or the radiant cherry blossom trees which have literally brightened the day with brilliant pink and white flowers over the past few weeks. I’m trying not to take for granted these glimpses of beauty in the mundane of the day-to-day. When I pause to take-in these moments of beauty they become as spiritual moments; a second of peace, a glimpse of God.
As a shake off my jacket and gaze hopefully at the grey sky I’m still at a stretch to see the beauty in the constant rain. And so I turn to my namesake, a woman who lived close to where I grew up in northern England - a place where the rain falls thicker and faster than I’ve ever experienced in London. Charlotte Brontë is of course best known for her classic novels but she was also a poet. And as the daughter of a clergyman, she was strongly influenced by Christianity. In her poem Life Brontë writes:
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
If the rain refreshes and renews the world, I hope I can recognize the beauty in that. And so I resolve to smile into the rain. Although from what I can remember (it’s been such a long time!) the sunshine is rather beautiful too!