I am standing in my kitchen reading about a woman who was asked to cover up while breastfeeding her newborn in a Texas health club. Just when I feel my blood pressure ratcheting up, I happen to glance out the window to my right – and what I see makes me catch my breath.
Outside, the backyard is bathed in an otherworldly light. Two looming evergreens in the distance, several houses down, are glowing in the spotlight of a sinking sun against a backdrop of dark clouds. A half-arc of rainbow bends above them to the left, but it is the light on these trees that makes me stop what I am doing and walk outside, as if in a trance. For a second I wonder if I am wearing my amazing Target sunglasses that cast a rosy filter on everything, but this is just raw nature, working its ordinary magic.
I walk out into a gentle rain – the kind of summer rain that appears suddenly in the wake of afternoon heat and smells strongly, as if each drop is tilling up the earth. Yes, it rains a lot in Oregon, but mostly a moody, incessant drizzle from the end of autumn through spring. August rain, rain like this, is a rare gift.
For a moment I just stand there, feeling panicked that I needed to somehow mark the moment in order to enjoy it. I consider grabbing a book of poetry, maybe something by Mary Oliver, and losing myself in a naturalist stupor.
Then I notice the cloth diapers on the clothesline, just on the edge of dryness after hours in the sun, and without thinking I grab a basket to gather them so they won’t get soaked again. I move meditatively, plucking them off one by one, letting the rain pelt me, breathing the soil-rich air.
This, I think, is better than poetry. I don’t need to compel a ceremony; I just need to be, to collect the diapers and let my senses gather in the world.
By nature, my mind is a nomad. I like to roam in the past and future, or lose myself in the timeless portal of the Internet. The might-have-been, the what-will-be – those are my haunts, too often. It takes a lot to pull me fully into the present. I usually need to be startled into the ecstasy of now.
And this has done it, this tornado light: low-lying storm clouds trapping the sun in an eerie, glowing calm – a sublime blend of beauty and doom.
What if I could learn to live here, in the rapture of the ordinary? What if I could trust what it’s telling me?
This is all that is asked of you:
offer your wonder as gratitude,
empty the clothesline before the storm hits.