The rain. The rain. I wake again to cool morning air in the room and the sound of rain falling. Gerry throws open the curtains and there is gray outside. There is a pouch of something just under my solar plexus. Panic maybe. So keenly do I feel the passing of time and the absence. The presence of absence. Yes, that’s it.
In my first waking moments of this gray day, I pray. I check in, give thanks, and ask for help. Ordinary things done in ordinary time. I don’t do them with joy because I feel this inexplicable weight. Maybe it’s the weather, or the sense that summer will pass before we drink deep enough of her, or maybe these are simply metaphors.
Gratitude. Go to gratitude, I tell myself. The air, as I mentioned, is fresh—no forest fire smoky skies like those we’ve experienced the past few summers. Fresh air, open windows and doors, a garden flourishing: these are all good things. And yet gratitude doesn’t seem to be enough.
I stand at the window and watch clouds snake down the valley like a fluffy white leviathan and, yes, there is some beauty in that. Sunlight peeks through tiny breaks reminding me of times I’ve been in planes that have flown through the clouds and how glorious it seemed that it’s always sunny somewhere. And heaven. Who can look at rays of sunlight reaching down toward earth and not invoke childish images of heaven being up there?
But the divine is right here in the rain and the gray and these days are as precious as any others. In them, there are lessons. I grow aware of a holy presence which is, at the same time, both present and absent and I drink deep from the moment. Day begins. Gratitude is a start but won’t get me through. It’s the sweet presence and the bittersweet absence. It’s the sehnsucht that brings me back to the grace.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.