Summer is in full effect. Yesterday, I read a news article that said it was the hottest day ever recorded. And while temperatures in North Carolina seem milder than other southern states, the humidity is intense enough to make you wonder if you are hiking or swimming through the forest trails. The heat can feel overpowering; it can make you want to stay indoors where it is cool, comfortable, and dry.
Yesterday, I drove into the city to grab some food and supplies, and by the time I arrived home, I wanted nothing more than to be out of the bright sun and in a cool, dark house. I guzzled down some cold water and stared out the living room window into the forest. The light outside was bright white and the heavy, humid air made the forest look like a steamy jungle.
A half hour passed, and the sky suddenly clouded up, reducing the heat dramatically. Dark clouds bellowed as the wind picked up, swaying the tops of the tall pines behind the house. Thunder rolled through the darkening sky, echoing as the storm approached. Then, as if someone had flipped a switch, the sky started pouring, as the storm blocked the harsh sun, wringing out the humid air; dropping the temperature over ten degrees
I brewed some fresh coffee and went outside to watch the storm, sitting under the pergola on the back porch as raindrops splattered loudly on the metal roof. Summer, if just for the afternoon, had vanished.
As I sipped my coffee, I remembered the Japanese saying, “megumi no ame”, which translates roughly into “blessed rain”. In Japan, people often use this phrase when a light, unexpected rain falls on a warm day. This type of rain wasn’t some kind of torrential downpour. It was a gentle act of grace that provided some much needed reprieve from the heat.
It’s interesting how we often use rainy days or gray clouds as metaphors for something unlucky or unwanted. Dark clouds evoke a sense of heaviness or perhaps sadness, while sunshine is something we see as cheery and bright. Megumi no ame, however, is a reminder that while life can be difficult and make us feel like we’re down on our luck, life also offers small acts of kindness that provide relief from the problems we’re attending. And while life can be difficult, learning to recognize moments of grace can help ease our burdens.