With Independence Day right around the corner, I feel compelled to continue my tradition of celebratory posts, but the summer months also represent the dip in the metaphorical sine wave of my life and as such, I haven’t felt inspired much. A dismal forecast only compounds this interest into something darker, brooding, wet.
Yet as I sit here, plucking words from turbid air, outside my window, past the Cartesian coordinates of the screen, through the humid and disparaging air, I see a verdant field pockmarked with shadows of hunter green, the rust-colored brick buildings opposite ours, dense trees on the horizon yet another shade of green, and above them, stretching toward the ends of the earth itself, the azure skies with snow-white clouds tied in bows all about it.
To me it seems a beautiful sight to celebrate.
Yesterday it rained.
I awoke to grey skies dripping in through my windows like sludge from a half-frozen winter roof, black puddles that cause your stomach to churn as you futilely attempt to overstep them. But the truth is I love the rain: I love the symphony of raindrops striking the ceiling, the pitter-patter of drops drip-dropping into puddles that cascade like waterfalls down the unevenness of the earth. I revel in the waves of heavy rain that weave throughout the deluge coming from the clouds; I watch in reverie as windswept tidal surges sail across the sky and down the street, every ray of lamplight illuminating another sight.
I don’t enjoy the grey expanse of sullenness that make me tired and weak. I thrive on sunlight, come to life amongst its light, and without such I fall into bed lonesome and silent.
It tends to be tradition in central North Carolina that the Fourth of July comes with ample magnitudes of rain. I can recall but perhaps one time in all my years living here wherein manmade fireshows were not accompanied in equal portions by the natural fireworks of summer storms. A meager amount of cloud coverage works well with light displays, allowing the fireworks’ glow to illuminate the heavens as much as the earth, and so normally I wouldn’t mind as much. Besides, what adds more excitement to a day than brilliant streams of lightning flying from cloud to cloud until thunderbolts are cast upon the ground? Thunder harmonizes with the cacophony of grand finales, turning industrial discord into the symphonies of synchronicity with the sounds of Mother Nature.
More so I revel in the rain for promises of what will follow. The ground never looks as green as after the grey filter of storm clouds blow away, the sky itself never as vibrant as after it’s been charged by lightning bolts removing all its impurities. The air is fresh, the wind is cool, the trees alive as they spread their leaves in welcoming for the effervescent sunlight pouring upon them like froth upon the beach.
It’s the promise of change, these raindrops deliver us. Each droplet itself a vessel of this most precious substance, no larger than our tears but cast directly from the heavens, foregoing the salt of our sorrows. Together these little actions accumulate to bring floods across the land, to stop streets and sweep away vehicles, each disaster carried upon the shoulders of a pinhead of water tossed upon the earth.
It makes our own potential seem limitless.
If a single raindrop can bring about endless destruction or a new day brimming with uncovered wonder and delight, what mountains can human hands move? What walls can we tear down, what walls can we raise?
Over two hundred years ago, these same human hands fought for the independence we now celebrate, and every year since, new hands have joined those to raise our flag of freedom ever higher. She waves to us in stripes of red and white, a shower of white stars on a deep blue sky, draping us in the cold months to keep warm and shading us in the unrelenting summer sun. She waves to us over amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, from sea to shining sea.
And in the rain, when that ocean water is cast down upon us, in the rain she stands there silently, saturated in potential, clinging to all the drops she has been given, waiting for us to rise again. Waiting to witness the unadulterated destruction we could craft, or the endless wonders we can create. We are free beneath her ramparts, and when the sun shines after the rains have ended, the earth is at our mercy. We can turn our hands against each other, or hold tight to one another as we ever raise higher the freedom we’ve been given.
In memory of the nineteen firefighters who died trying to save their communities in Prescott, Arizona, on Sunday, June 30, 2013.