Yesterday afternoon, my son Josh and I decided to take a walk into town, even though it had rained on and off all day.
The sky was unsettled, bright in some spots, dark and gray in others. The air was thick with humidity and steam rose up from the pavement.
We decided to chance it.
The scents, sounds, and sights of summer were all around us. Huge water drops clung to brightly colored flowers and shimmered like diamonds. An owl flew over our heads, causing Josh to wonder aloud why an owl was up and about in the afternoon. Birds sang to each other and we could hear crickets deep in the woods. The smell of clover wafted through the air as we passed a neighbor’s freshly cut lawn and the wind rustled the bright green leaves of the trees. Old pine needles carpeted the sidewalk as we headed toward the lake. Every once in awhile, I would catch the scent of pine, which reminded me of Christmastime.
A soft rain started. Still, we continued our walk.
The thunder had chased away all swimmers, except for two middle aged lovers who had the swimming area to themselves. They were completely oblivious to the fact that we were walking on the road above them, so wrapped up were they in each other. They kissed and splashed and laughed and swam with utter abandon and joy. I marveled that a woman who had, shall we say extremely generous curves, could be so completely comfortable out in public wearing a bikini. I have never known that kind of security in my own skin.
But maybe I am beginning to.
Years ago, I would never have taken a walk in the rain. I would have considered it impractical, uncomfortable and possibly unsafe, especially if there was a rumble of thunder.
Yet here I was, steadily getting soaked. I was not wearing a stitch of makeup. An old baseball cap covered my hair and I wore workout pants and an old T-shirt. I didn’t even have my cell phone with me.
And I loved it.
As the rain intensified, Josh pushed away the hood of his raincoat and lifted his face up to the weeping sky with a big smile on his face.
Then he looked over at me, not quite believing that his mom had agreed to do this with him.
We both laughed.
Even as a little boy, he was fascinated by storms and loved to play in the rain. This has never changed.
The second year that we had moved up here to our little town in the mountains, the Fourth of July fireworks were rained out. We ran for the car to head home and as we pulled into our driveway, the first thing Josh noticed were the enormous puddles that had formed right in front of our garage.
“Can we play in the puddles?” our 11 year old son asked excitedly.
“Yeah! Can we?” asked his 10 year old sister, always anxious to follow her big brother’s lead.
Once we gave permission, they scrambled out of the car and for the next thirty minutes their screams of laughter and squeals of joy reverberated through our little cul-de-sac as they jumped with all their might into puddle after puddle. Doug and I just sat in the car and watched them through the rain-spattered windshield, smiling wide and soaking it all up.
In the summer of his junior year, Josh asked me to take some photos of him jumping in puddles while it was raining, which I did from the safety of the inside of our garage.
And here we were again today, walking together in another rain storm.
There was a certain freedom in not rushing for shelter, not trying in the least to stay dry, not hurrying our pace. or worrying over the fact that we were by this time completely water-logged.
We were living fully in the moment, and making a memory and I was filled with joy to be in this place, spending this time with my son.
By the time we turned around and headed for home, the rain had picked up considerably and the thunder rumbled more ominously. We continued to talk about dreams and plans and the importance of art, interspersed with much delighted laughter. The amorous couple had left the water and there were certainly no other pedestrians. Only a few cars drove along the lake, their headlights reflecting on the shiny wet road, the drivers no doubt shaking their heads at the two loons who were taking a stroll in such weather.
As our home came into view, I looked over at Josh, who had not stopped grinning. His red hair was darkened to a rich auburn by the rain and big droplets clung to his impossibly thick eyelashes. I tried to take a mental snapshot of him that I would always remember: my beautiful boy soon to leave his teen years forever behind, smiling wide, full of life and dreams and brimming with creativity.
I thanked God for this moment and for granting me the precious gift of time with my son.
Later as I took a hot shower, I shuddered to think of what I would have missed if I had decided to do the practical thing and stay warm and dry inside.
So much of real life is lived outside of the box and very often, that is the place where the deepest joy is found and experienced.
By the time I had showered and changed clothes, the sun was pouring through the windows, the rain over and gone. My husband called my attention to the amazing sky that the storm left in its wake and I grabbed my camera and ran outside to capture the image at the top of this post.
A benediction to a magical walk in the rain.
My heart was full.