As I sat and watched the rain for the umpteenth day in a row, I decided to take a moment and ponder rain instead of just being a hater for all the “trouble” it was causing me. Pondering rain brought me to the following: Goldilocks, spiders, music, Grandma’s quilts, destruction, Noah and Dr. Maya Angelou.
This article is designed to get you started on your own journey with rain. Consider it a little rain therapy. My hope is that by reading some of my random thoughts, you’ll take some time to consider your own relationship with our dear friend and recent constant companion: rain.
I know I said Goldilocks. But forget her for the moment—she was just a hot mess. I’m altering the plot a bit—giving the bears the lead roles in my little play. Most of us fall into the category of the first two bears. The first bear growls, “This rain’s just too much.” The second disagrees, “This rain’s too little.” Then there’s that one last bear who takes things in stride with: “This rain is just right!” He obviously has an umbrella that does not turn inside out at the slightest gust of wind. He also probably has a precious pair of galoshes and a matching little raincoat like Paddington Bear, better known these days as the “Kellyanne Conway revolutionary drum major inaugural coat.”
I digress. As I continued to ponder the rain, I realized what a central place rain plays in every part of our lives. We learned about it before we could even walk. It began with one of our very first songs when “down came the rain and washed that scary, furry, mean spider out.” Why must we torture our children with songs about arachnids? Thank goodness for the rain, which saved our lives over and over.
Then there is the recurring theme of rain in music. All that is required here is a short list sung by the greatest artists of all time to get you started on your own favorites (feel free to sing along):
And that doesn’t even start with the songs about stormy weather!
Now, about grandma’s quilts. Truth be told, I don’t have a lot
of warm, fuzzy memories of childhood. I’m pretty sure we were in church for much of every day—rain or shine. But, in Texas, we didn’t have the steady drip, drip, drip. Oh, no. We had real thunder storms. Gully-washers that could drown a frog—replete with thunder and lightning. My grandmother had a big front screened-in porch. When the storm clouds approached, we gathered up the quilts she had made and went out on the porch. We cuddled up together to watch and listen. We would squeal with each flash of lightning or clap of thunder. But we knew we were safe and warm because we were together and protected in the arms of our family. I think it is why, to this day, I just love the sound of rain on the roof or the window.
There is also extraordinary danger that comes with the rain. We all have enormous empathy for the 200,000 people forced to evacuate from the Lake Oroville dam, or those who have homes now floating along Russian River, or the nice people in Pacifica whose apartment buildings just decided to slide on down the cliff to be closer to the water. And that’s just in our region. Rain can be incredibly destructive, as we all know. It has taken many lives. But none like this next story.
For my husband, there is one story from the Bible that upsets him more than any other. He is absolutely obsessed with it because for some reason, it literally defines the concept of the wrathful, vengeful god. It’s about that feller Noah. Noah disturbs Dan deeply. It really bothers him that one day, god decided to make it rain so hard and long that it wiped out the entire planet. Yup, killed ‘em all. Well, almost all. He decided to save a few of his “favorite things”: 2 mosquitos, 2 spiders, 2 cockroaches, 2 skunks, 2 bats, 2 puppies (needed more of these) and Noah’s family. They turned out to be more colorful than the most outrageous Jerry Springer episode. For forty days and forty nights it rained. We can almost beat that, but no one is building an arc. They are still looking for the last one. Guess god’s not that mad at us—yet.
Finally, this comes with a warning: Name Dropping Ahead. I had the incredible privilege of actually being a friend of Dr. Maya Angelou. I had the pleasure of being in her home on several occasions sharing an adult cocktail—or five—with just her and her sister. When it came time, I had the honor of pretty much single-handedly planning and hosting her 80th birthday celebration. It was held at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and filled with 2,000 fans—mostly LGBTQ folks.
Dr. Angelou, somewhat frail, sat on a stool and delivered her message to a rapt audience. It was a very specific message to those gathered. Our community never had a greater ally. The message for us was not to despair, but to keep on keeping on because: “There’s a rainbow in every cloud.” It was a message for us that day, and continues to resonate today. We have been through the storm, and yet the clouds gather once again on the horizon. They may be full of rain and wind and thunder and lightning. But when the sun comes out—and it will eventually come out—there will be a rainbow. We will have lived to see the sun once again. It’s a promise we must hold on to.
Rain, rain, do’t go away. Come again another day. We will try to remember the good. And buy a better umbrella.
Dr. Tim Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.