Petrichor (n.) the scent of rain on dry earth

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain”.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

While growing up in the West of Scotland, I was very used to having rainsoaked jeans, dripping wet hair, and soggy toes as the water had made it into my welly boots! Rain was an almost permanent feature of my life and something I love. Where I live in Tanzania, we have come to the end of a long dry season. It has been hot, the land is dry and scorched, and you can feel the earth crying out for rain. The rainy season is just now beginning and, as you watch the dark clouds roll in and see the lightning flashing across the sky, you can’t help but feel relief that the dried out land is at last going to get much needed water. When the rain comes, it buckets down from the sky. The raindrop are the size of tennis balls, and the rain is relentless. You can hear it battering on the roof and forming swimming pool sized puddles outside my front door. You can smell that beautiful scent of rain on the dust fill the air. Over the coming weeks the colours of the landscape outside my house will change from the dried out yellow and brown dust to green grass and flowering trees. Plants that we thought to be dead will come to life again, shoots will work their way up through the earth to daylight, and the whole land will be refreshed.

IMG_1032Watching the rain fall has always made me feel very at peace. Rain has long been used as a metaphor for ‘renewal’ and ‘refreshment’ and, when you stand in the middle of a rainstorm in East Africa, you cannot help but feel the significance of such a metaphor.

While in Uganda in April, we had spent a scorchingly hot day visiting a rural Ugandan maternity unit. The visit was difficult and emotionally draining and by the time we all got back to where we were staying our hearts were heavy with the weight of all we had seen and the women we had talked with.

IMG_1034As we sat around that evening, a massive thunderstorm rolled in. As the raindrops started to fall and the thunder started to roar, we stood out in the rain, arms open wide, letting it rain on us and wash away the heaviness that we were feeling. We danced in the rain. We splashed around in the puddles. We laughed with each other and allowed the rain to completely drench us, refreshing and renewing our spirits.

We all need a little bit of rainfall in our lives. Sometimes our souls dry up with the draining influence of heartaches, sadness, frustration, or worries. We need opportunities for our stresses, sadness or worries to be washed away and to feel refreshed and to laugh again.

When the rain comes, we should let it rain.


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