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Ten minutes from home. Roiling clouds obscure the wan sun like a finicky lover. A breeze from the south assuages the nape of my neck, sticky with perspiration. Mist befogs my glasses, moistens my cheeks.

I’m going to get wet, perhaps very wet. In that split second my irritation morphs into acceptance: everything changes.

Around my fish-boots, rain polka-dots the sidewalk, then splatters into rivulets coursing along the curb toward the sewer. I relax into the wetness; its tentacles envelop me within their chill. I begin to laugh as I shelter beneath maples and oaks and catch my breath. It’s been awhile since I was drenched.

Then out into the open, the last stretch of my walk, and home. My scalp tingles, my chin drips, my shirt clings to my back, my pants etched with wavy designs—a waterlogged human. My laughter feels like orange sherbet.

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” So said the gifted country singer and song writer, Roger Dean Miller.

Is this not also how grace works in our psyches? Always proffered, but awash in distractions?

 

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Wetness saturates the air with droplets. Overhanging maples, with run-off teased by breezes, splatter upon my slicker. Around me, shrubs pay homage to the once cracked ground, oozing underfoot and chilling my sandaled-toes.

It is Saturday afternoon by the creek: a confluence of multiple rhythms that compels even deeper listening. I pause in my tracks as my spirit yearns for moisture. I shout into the stillness. Gladness wells and refreshes my cramped psyche: Again, my Inner Writer breathes. Such is the restorative power of walking in the woods.

That evening I happened upon Beethoven’s Symphony # 6 in F Major – The Pastoral (1808). Beset by health and relationship issues most of his life, he often left Vienna and took solitary walks into the country; there, nature’s rhythms nurtured his passion for composing. Such must have occurred with his Sixth Symphony. Unlike others, it contains programmatic notes for the five movements: Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrive in the countryside, Scene by the brook, Merry gathering of country folk, Thunderstorm, and Shepherd’s song and cheerful feelings after the storm. Fortunate for us, Beethoven later wove these rich experiences into this symphony; its melodic lines breathe into the psyches of the listeners. Contentment expands into smiles. All is well.

Like him, we are never the same after such walks.

 

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Splat! Upon my hood, winds shake raindrops from overarching maples. I stop in my tracks, the sleeves of my slicker glistening with wetness like tears filming the eyes of a new mother.

I am alone.

Ahead of me mounts the asphalt trail, stippled with leaves: greens, coppers, browns, and mustards, with snatches of scarlets—denuded by fall’s encroachment. There’s no stopping her. A solitary raven caws. I look up. Clouds hover over this wetness like a seasoned gardener mulching flowerbeds. A droplet disengages a shrunken leaf from its mooring and spins it to the forest floor littered with twigs and dried stems. Musk pulsates from every pore of this wetland.

Such seasonal stripping reminds me of grace, subtly detaching us from the outworn, that which no longer sustains our spiritual growth. We dare not ignore this imperative.

 

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