Across the field I could hear it coming, like the rustling of a thousand pages, the whispers of a thousand lovers, the lifting of a thousand wings. The rain moved toward me across the broad, flat field, a row at a time.
I’d been doubtful, when I left the house, based upon the general dryness and the dust that rose when a single car passed me, that any significant moisture would materialize. Doubtful that the clouds, the color of pewter and thick like cotton batting, held the rain that the rows of short green stems craved. Doubtful that the sky would yield anything other than disappointment. So I had headed out.
A drop fell on my bare shoulder, another on my cheek. I watched as three tiny pools collected on the open magazine I was holding just steady enough to read. Then three more. The slick stock puckered and the ink smeared. I kept walking as I measured the time between plops. It was, it occurred to me, the exact reverse of staring at the microwave while the popcorn pops, waiting for the rapid-fire explosions to slow.
About halfway up the hill, the pine trees on either side of the road started singing. The wind was sweeping through them like breaths through an oboe, deep notes that somehow float and circle and find resonance in a heartbeat. This was no ruse, no prank. The rain is coming, the trees were telling me. I kept walking.
Eventually, though, I tired of trying to turn pages that had stuck together and were curling at the edges. I tired of fighting the wind that snatched at my hair and tried to stuff it in my mouth. I tired of doubting. I closed the magazine and stuck it under my arm. I made sure that my phone was as deep in my pocket as it could be. I sighed and turned around.
The thing about getting caught in the rain is that once you’re wet, once your clothes are stuck to your skin, once the tread on your shoes has filled with mud so that any one step could be the one that sends you sliding to the ground, there really isn’t much need to hurry. So I didn’t. I walked slowly, if not carefully, and wondered how I could have so easily presumed that the clouds were empty or, worse, fickle. How I could have been so willing to assume the sky’s offer of rain was nothing more than a meteorological bait-and-switch. Why I didn’t trust the sky.
Somewhere in my brain lies the place where lives the strange notion that if I want anything too much I am certain to not get it, the strange notion that equates desire with presumption and presumption with unworthiness. It is a notion that resists the words of great teachers and the comfort of great friends. It is an idea that has no support in science or religion and, yet, it remains, so that on this day, standing on the front porch and considering the sky, I did not dare admit that I wanted very much for the pewter clouds to relieve themselves over the dry and dusty fields.
The deepest truths, however, lie not in the brain, but in the heart. And the truth is that I do trust the sky. I trust it far more than I trust myself. I trust it to know far more than I ever will. The struggle is to remember.
Back at home, I wipe my feet, I change my clothes, I unroll the magazine so that it can dry. On the kitchen table, I spread it open. Open like my hands at communion, open like the leaves on the short green stems trembling beneath the steady fall of rain, open like a heart that can be trusted and is filled with desire.