Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dancing in the Rain

As I've gotten older I've grown to appreciate rain more than I ever did as a kid. Maybe it's because of where I've been and where I was growing up. Rain as a kid often brought things like tornadoes which, as well expected, terrified me as a 6 year old hiding in the basement wrapped in a quilt.

Experience has changed my perspective of rain a lot though. Especially in the last year. It's not something I fear. It's more of a blessing now. While spending six weeks in the desert last fall I noticed something one day at the county fair. It was HOT! As it should be int he desert! The sun had blasted down on us all day and my friend and I had both forgotten our water bottles so watching the rodeo at the fair was on the brink of torture, at least for our thirsty bodies. As we stood in line for the BBQ at noon I noticed how all these people had umbrellas. Where I grew up umbrellas are for rain. These people were using them for shade. Something I hadn't really thought about when I saw them handing them out as incentive prizes on one of their Diabetes Walks. As we stood their parched, we noticed rain clouds in the distance. Not many, just a few that may pass or may go slow enough to drop some much needed moisture on these desert people's lands. As we inched closer to the front of the line the storm moved in. Large spatters of rain kicked up dust when it hit the barren dirt road we were standing on. The clouds moved over the sun and pretty much in one motion, the umbrellas all went down. People stood in their little groups seemingly unaware of the rain now pouring down over them. In the back of my mind I'm wondering why these people would put down their umbrellas in the rain. Isn't that what they were made for? But I was also thinking just how wonderful the cooling rain was. It was such a relief from the heat of the noonday sun that I couldn't help but stand there and just let it pour down on me. It only last for about five minutes. Enough to cool everyone off. Not really enough to make a difference to the gardens but maybe a little. Later I asked one of the local Native people about the umbrellas and letting it rain on them. She said, "We pray for rain in our dances. Why would we cover our heads from something we pray for?" What a wonderful way to look at a rainy day!

I've never really been the type to see rain as "liquid sunshine" but I no longer dread a rainy day (although several in a row kind of put me in a grumpy mood). Listening to music this morning in the shower a song came on by the Glengary Bhoys called "Alberta." The song has always touched me, even before I knew what it was about because the chorus has a line in it that I love: "Let's go dancing in the rain!" It turns out that this song was written as a tribute to a woman who was succumbing to Alzheimer's disease. My grandmother had Alzheimer's. It's sad to watch a woman who was so strong become a helpless child but I always remember how it seems that many patients with Alzheimer's tend to live in their happiest memories. So despite the nursing home and the missing dentures (which probably ended up in someone else's mouth!) and the sadness of watching someone slip away while still being right in front of you, I think of this song and the hope that it has. It's the woman's lover/partner/friend, promising to remember for her. It's kind of like that movie, what was it? The Notebook? It reminds me to take every day and LIVE because I never know when I may be the one with Alzheimer's and I will need my friends to remind me of the life I lived, of the memories we made and the laughter and fun. It's why I grab my keys and head to a great trail for a 5.5 mile hike despite the rain clouds I see on the horizon. It's why I get up every morning at 4:45 AM and work out. I want to live the life God gave me so that I can look back and live in the happiest times if it ever comes to that. Even on the bright sunny days like today, through music, through nature, and through friends I will go dancing in the rain!

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