Here in Texas, like so many parts of the world, it has been hot and dry. Each day it's 105, 106, 104, 107. You don't check the weather as you know it will be hot, it's only a matter of degree.
With the heat there has been no rain and our town has water restrictions. So the grass is yellow and the garden has come to rest. The tomato plants died. Then the zucchini. Then the eggplant. The herbs and some pepper plants remain, as well as some sweet potatoes resting deep in the warm earth.
Then, glory of glories: this week we had a very brief rain shower, ten minutes of heavenly liquid pouring on the parched earth. I held my face up to the rain and drank and drank it in. This poem came to me while I was praising that glorious rain.
Sometimes, while laying in bed, I weep for the earth and for the ways we've destroyed our home. I weep for the animals and the plants. I weep for my own frailty and for the ways it can be so hard for all of us to get along.
Perhaps the next time I weep for the earth I'll lay on her dirt skin and let my tears fall into her soil. My Sufi sheikh would always say that rain is a sign of mercy, for nothing grows without rain. I always think of this mercy when it rains. May it pour.
When the rains came
After seven weeks of heat and seven weeks
of drought the grass is withered and yellow.
The sunflowers are husks of their former selves
but the herbs continue in their aromatic ways.
In the soft evening light you weave your hands
through the lavender throngs and breathe them
into your skin.
Last night, O Holy Night, it rained. The skies
greyed and the metallic scent of water arose.
You opened your face to the sky and let
the water come, soaking your skin. It was
ten minutes of wet to water seventy thousand
minutes of heat.
Your heart has felt as dry as the brittle
grass. It feels like seventy thousand minutes
have passed since you were last watered.
Sometimes the rain comes for minutes when
you want to be soaked to the bone.
You understand now why your ancestors
prayed for rain. They prayed as if their
lives depended on it, and they often did.
So let us pray: Come rain, soften us. Crack
our dry ground. Help us to remember that
even in the desert we can feel the scent of
water. Even in drought we can feel the hint