I glanced at the weather this morning and saw rain in the forecast, but it wasn’t until I was in the middle of the wholesale club store with my cart full of needed supplies for a post-funeral reception at church tomorrow that I heard the thunder. No matter how fast I sprinted, there was no way I was beating Mother Nature to tonight’s thunderstorms. Even once I was back at home it continued to rain through dinner, and into our evening stroll to feed our neighbor’s cats. My rain barrel is overflowing. The showers have now calmed to a steady mist, and I decided to stroll my yard and take in the after rain ambiance.
As I was strolling, my mind drifted back to my childhood, walking in an after rain wonderland of lush, green grass and vibrant flowers dotted with clinging raindrops. The hill between our side yard and our neighbor’s yard was covered in sweet peas, with their purple-pink blooms. I was reaching into the clumps of flowers when I noticed tiny, perfect snails that were intertwined with the leaves, blossoms, and curly tendrils growing wild on the hillside. I marveled at the perfectly formed shells, and the way they glided along the leaves. I was convinced these belonged to fairies…they were so tiny, so perfect. I was completely lost in imagination in this after rain wonderland.
Walking after rain still feels like liminal space to me. Maybe it’s the symbolism, of a world washed clean and returned to its purest state. Maybe it’s the artistry created by light-catching water droplets, or the potential of spotting a rainbow. Perhaps it’s a deep, soul-stamped reminder of the power and beauty of nature.
Remembering back to my childhood, I was drawn in by the quest for snails whenever it rained after that. Sometimes I found them and sometimes I did not. It was elusive, like a rainbow sighting. I wondered, when I heard the story of Noah told and re-told in Sunday School, whether the snails were inside or outside the ark. I have long since moved past the need for biblical literalism, but there is something in the epic narrative of the flood story that does speak to my spirit, in the same way as the snails did. In the aftermath of a great storm, we catch a glimpse of something average, normal, daily: an olive branch, or a tiny snail on its sweet-pea abode, perhaps. After rain, that ordinary siting feels extraordinary. It speaks directly to spirit, activating that spark of intuitive knowledge that offers a glimpse of the divine ordinary.
Maybe that is why strolling my garden offers this liminal space for my reflection tonight. The world is washed clean, and my eyes can see what I might otherwise overlook. A snail, a rainbow, a perfect prism captured in a water drop, a small point of light. Reminders, perhaps, of the overwhelming beauty of the divine ordinary at work in the natural world.
Dressed to perfection
snails glide toward the purple blooms
still drying off.