The Spiritual Practice of Walking in the Rain

On Friday, I walked around the garden in the rain and then went out for lunch, again walking in the rain and splashing through as many puddles as I could find. So what you might think, you live in Seattle; it always rains there, doesn’t it? Actually no. In fact, this was one of the driest summers on record and last week the smoke billowed in from surrounding fires. It was so bad that we ranked #1 for a major city with poor air quality two days in a row, so the refreshing rain was wonderfully invigorating and it was a delight to get out and walk in it. 

I have always loved walking in the rain, though I must confess that the cold winter rain of Seattle is sometimes a little miserable for me. In fact, give me a couple of months and I will probably not be rejoicing in the rain but rather grumbling whenever I need to go out. However, if I maintain that childhood delight of splashing through puddles and relishing the raindrops falling on my tongue, it is wonderful no matter the season. And the seasons are changing so I definitely need to get ready for those cold drippy days that lie ahead. 

It’s all about attitude though. I am gearing up for a new season and part of that preparation is changing my attitude to walking in the rain. This walking in the rain is really a very spiritual thing after all and there is great benefit in embracing and enjoying it whatever season I am in. Evidently, rain is good for us not just physically but emotionally and spiritually too.

Walking in the rain lifts our spirits. Have you noticed that standing inside watching the rain pour down makes us feel grumpy and depressed whereas getting out and walking in the rain actually lifts our spirits? Raindrops on our faces and wind in our hair make us feel alive and renewed. There is nothing more invigorating than the smell of rain after a long period of dry weather, and evidently, there is a reason for that.

Bacteria, plants and even lightning can all play a role in the pleasant smell we experience after a thunderstorm; that of clean air and wet earth. Known as petrichor, the scent has long been chased by scientists and even perfumers for its enduring appeal (Petrichor: Why Does Rain Smell So Good?).

God designed us to appreciate rain and to be enlivened by it. Maybe we can even develop our own brand of fragrances from it. At the least, we can learn a few lessons as we gear up for this new season.

Rain is a miracle that helps us see the world and the people in it differently. It changes our view of reality as though we are looking through a different lens. Familiar places look different. Well-known people look different and in the midst, we sometimes catch different glimpses of God – a God who provides the miracle of rain to refresh the earth so that the crops grow, and people thrive.

He does wonderful things that confound,
infinite numbers of miracles.
He gives rain to the earth,
sends down water to the fields;
He lifts up the downtrodden, bolsters the bereaved,
raising them to safety (
Job 5:9-11 The Voice).

Rain teaches us acceptance. Rain is indifferent to our plans and our desires. I remember once praying fervently that God would stop the rain… because I had planned a picnic for that day. And guess what, the rain did not stop. God (and the rain) were indifferent to my self-centeredness. It helped me to let go of my best-laid plans and expectations of the day.

Rain represents something beyond our control, like the absurdities that happen in our daily lives. Accepting things as they are and choosing to continue to go about our business of living life in a positive mood leads to greater happiness (The Benefits of Walking In The Rain).

More than that, walking in the rain helps build stamina and resilience, preparing us for the less than ideal conditions that we experience in other parts of our lives too. It takes more effort to walk in the rain, especially against the wind.

Rain provides a place of solitude. I love to walk with my husband and with friends, to talk and share moments of delight as we walk, but I also love the aloneness of a rain-filled walk that isolates me into a secret world of my own thoughts. This is particularly true of an urban walk through usually noisy and crowded streets. Most people suddenly stop walking so the streets become a quiet refuge that I have all to myself.

Rain cleans the air. Our air quality changed from extremely unhealthy to good in a couple of hours. For those who live in heavily populated and polluted urban areas, this might be the most healthy time to get out and explore the neighbourhood.

What Is Your Response?

Is it raining where you live? Consider a walk outside on your own to enjoy the invigorating effects. Otherwise, close your eyes and remind yourself of the last time you took a walk in the rain and how it made you feel.

Imagine lifting your face to the wind.

Feel the rain in your hair and the wind on your face. How does it make you feel? Are you aware of God touching your spirit in the same way that the rain is touching your hair?

Taste the raindrops landing on your tongue. Imagine them cleansing not just the air around you but also your spirit and your soul. Is there something specific that needs cleaning in your life that God is prompting you to consider?

Look around you – what do you notice that looks different? Is there something that God would speak to you about through that difference?

Listen for the voice of God in the silence. In the uncluttered space, without traffic noise, is there something that you hear God saying to you?

Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash

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