A Sufi teacher once told me that the rain is a symbol of mercy, because nothing grows without rain. Here in Austin, we are thirsty for rain. We had a sprinkle a few evenings ago, but otherwise, the hot dry days stretch on for weeks.
Most of my garden is at rest. Most of the plants have died without enough moisture and too much heat. We'll begin another growing cycle in late August, when the days will be a tad shorter and cooler, day by day.
I wrote this poem on a rainy spring day. These past few years, as I've cared for autoimmune illness, my relationship to mercy has been transformed. I need reminders of mercy and kindness, regularly. The rain helps.
This morning, as I walked outside to visit my plants and to run my hands through the lavender's hair, I remembered this poem, and the Mercy. They wanted to visit with you, too.
What the rain taught me
In the quiet afternoon
the rain pours off the eaves,
tumbling into the weaving sunflowers.
The cat snuggles in the pillows, closer.
The tomato plants grow, drip by drip,
from the rushing shower.
My teacher once told me –
the rain is a symbol of mercy,
for nothing grows without rain.
It rains on the just and unjust alike.
Looking at my garden, I don't see
just or unjust, but what's eating and what's being eaten –
watermelon and pepper plants,
fire ants and slugs,
aphids and arugula.
Today, feeling the ache of illness return, I feel the rain inside.
I feel the instinct, to tend and furrow –
But what is weed, and what is crop?
What is pest and what is fruit?
I'm drought and I am rain.
I'm being eaten, and I'm eating.
The just and the unjust: they abide together.
I open my mouth and taste the rain.
I open my heart and drink the mercy.
Outside, the rain has stopped.
Inside, the rain continues.
I open my mind and let go.