This morning it was pouring outside- coming down in buckets. I looked out my bedroom window and watched the rain wash down the pavement and soak the faded brown leaves, and all I could think of was dodging raindrops during final exams.
I went to college in southern Massachusetts. It was not unusual for it to rain the whole week of exams before Christmas break. I still remember pulling up the hood of my snorkel jacket while I ran from the dorms to the classroom, and dripping onto my blue book while I took the Abnormal Psych exam. All that week I’d run to take an exam, stopping off at the cafeteria for a quick coffee-milk, and after the exam, run back to the dorms to peel off my wet jeans and hop between the sheets for a nap.
The college was comprised of several futuristic buildings formed from concrete and steel. In the rain, the concrete darkened from dove white to seagull gray. The campus was dismal and depressing- outside. But inside was totally different. Perhaps because of the gray outside, during the rain the inside became bright, warm and cozy. We who lived in the dorms would push cafeteria tables together, sitting in large, family style groups. We often lingered over meals on rainy days, choosing to sit close to one another, laughing and teasing, instead of trekking across the large expanse of soggy grass and puddled pavement. It was as if there were an unspoken rule that if it rained outside, we had to be doubly cheerful inside.
It is not only in college that rain brings people together. We huddle together under umbrellas and run in synchronized steps to escape a deluge from above. We snuggle our children under fuzzy blankets and read to them as the rain patters against the windowpane. We crowd around the dining room table in front of steaming bowls of soup and home baked bread. We discuss the weather with strangers in the elevator, instead of standing in silent solitude. We smile to each other in commiseration, while we wait in line for a cup of coffee at the corner cafe.
A friend once noted that when God first created Eden, there was no rain. The plants and trees were nourished by the morning dew, and rain didn’t occur until they were cast out of the Garden. I don’t know if that is true, but I wonder. When Adam and Eve first sinned, they each blamed the other. That must have caused a rift between them. But we all know that people need each other. We need to warm each other, to soothe each others’ broken hearts, to blend notes together in harmony rather than lonely unrelated lines of melody. Maybe a fresh motivation to draw close and face the harshness of the world together was started with a drop of rain.
Last evening I had a phone conversation with my daughter that didn’t go well. Perhaps it is the generational gap that I pretend doesn’t exist. Perhaps it was because I had a headache. Perhaps it was because we just disagree. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t good enough to justify hurt feelings and a damaged relationship. I sulked for the rest of the evening and woke this morning still feeling grouchy and out of sorts. But then I saw that it was raining, and remembered how in college, rain brought us together. She is the same age now as I was then. She probably dodges raindrops on her way back to the dorms and slips into bed to grab a nap after her exams. She probably migrates to her friends in the dining hall when it is cold and gray outside.
She flies home from school tonight and you can bet I’ll wrap my arms around her, pull her close and shield her from the wet drops that pour from the sky and dribble from my eyes. Then we’ll go home where it is warm and dry. Because rain brings us together.