“Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it’s going to rain today.”
— Lyrics by Randy Newman
Today is a rainy day.
It started raining in the dark hours of night, rained all through the morning and now into the afternoon.
The heavens, overflowing with emotion, have alternately sobbed thick sheets of angry tears onto the streets and sidewalks, and wept delicate tears of gratitude and humility.
In some ways, the rain feels oddly appropriate and fitting. As it should be.
This being human thing is a strange mixture of misery and joy, grief and grace, desperation and hope. This Life that we live – both collectively and individually – is sometimes just too full of it all. Somewhere, someone is celebrating. A job promotion perhaps. Or maybe a new house or an anniversary. And somewhere, someone is grieving – a death, a divorce, or a friend moving away. Someone will get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to bed, all without disruption or disturbance, while someone else will be stopped in her tracks with a pink slip, a cancer diagnosis, or a car accident.
It’s all too much to make sense of sometimes. Too much to hold. The joy and pain, the pleasure and the heartache, overflows and spills out in wet tears of rain that desperately plead “help!” or reverently say “thanks.”
Last weekend I came downstairs to find Jackson cuddled up in Matt’s lap, sobbing. What’s wrong, I asked. Why are you crying?
I don’t know, Jackson wailed. I don’t know why, but I just can’t stop.
I know, honey, I said. I know.
Those of us with overflowing hearts (which is all of us, really) know. We know what it’s like to cry without reason or pause. We know that this being human thing, this living a Life thing, asks that we love and get hurt and then love some more. Life will always ask that we give more, love more, feel more than we think possible. And there is a price for that: tears and rain, incomprehensible sadness and grief, overflowing kindness and gratitude.
A few weeks ago, while up in Wisconsin staying at my parents’ lake cottage, I went for a morning run. I had been feeling antsy and edgy for a while. Life felt a little too heavy and overbooked and uncertain. I knew that I needed to get out and move, that I needed to shake my body up a little bit to smooth out the edges in my mind, so I laced up my sneakers and popped in some earbuds and started off down the long country road.
About a third of the way through my run, it started to rain and I thought about turning back early. But I kept running.
It rained harder. I kept running.
It rained even harder, and I kept running.
After running in the rain for about a mile or so, I realized that I was smiling. I tilted my head toward the skies and let the rain, velvety and soft, roll down my face, my neck, and my arms. Like the parched earth, I drank it in, feeling nourished and cleansed.
I’m not sure why but, during that run, I felt both calmer and more invigorated than I had felt in weeks, months even. The rain felt fitting and appropriate that morning, as well, necessary even. Like the universe was overflowing with grief and grace, doubt and delight, misery and mercy. Like the heavens were washing us clean of our fears and concerns, trying to make room for faith and courage.
The writer in me tried to find some kind of symbolic significance to the rain that morning, a metaphorical lesson in it all. Something about renewal and regeneration. Or seasons and satisfaction. Or maybe something about dark clouds and silver linings.
But you know, there doesn’t have to be some bigger purpose, some kind of symbolic significance or metaphorical meaning, in order for something to be purposeful and impactful. Sometimes there isn’t a reason, there isn’t an answer. Sometimes things are just too much, Life is too full, and we are filled to overflowing. Sometimes we’re just too damn tired to find the silver lining, so we cry or laugh instead.
Sometimes it feels good to just run in the rain for a while.