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In The Summer Woods Waiting For Rain By The Side Of A Stream

Slipping inside the chapel of the wood's cool and shaded paths, you spirit yourself away from the baking world gone achingly dry beyond this gathering of trees.

You observe a few moments of walking, silent as unspoken prayer.

An assembling of steps you will take toward respite from the clattering degrees in that mad rush of mercury ever higher, ever drier.

The woods are just as dry as the thirsting fields but the shade plays pleasing tricks with the light, the leaves like stained glass, the harsh light of day kept at bay and only a green filtering of sunbeams let in, a hush of light in a whispering passage of the sun, not the blistering rays of noon's intense broiling among the driven pavement and sweated sidewalks.

You can feel the rain calling.

Or you think so, ears straining for even a single drop of that wet miracle, a tear from the dark side of the unseen moon that shines, nevertheless, from another point of view.

A few steps into the woods and all possibilities change.

Out there in the cemented light, where some giant cop seems to be giving the world the third degree and demanding confession, redemption of the world's drought seems less probable, an improbability sweating down the barrel of a loaded sun.

Someone points the sun, pulls the trigger and something whizzes past, kicking up dust on the trail, jousting dry leaves beyond, then ricocheting off a limb. Leaves fall. Some of them are yellow before their time, advance scouts from autumn, spying out the lay of the land.

The earth lies dry beneath the leaves, except for a stream that flows like a healing wound, a living scar that drought can't stitch up. There are marks in the streambed that show how the water used to flow. Even the rocks reveal how much water has been lost from the flowing.

The watermarks are fossils and you interpret the past while praying for the future.

Still, you feel the ghost of rainfall as a wood thrush plays its fluted song. The spirit of mist and fog tug at your memory and the way sunlight could stand naked in its own beam, waiting for another ray, certain it would come and play.

There, a drop of rain splashes on your wrist.

Or not.

But the only thunder is the world calling you back to desk and duty.

You linger, instead, the rain surely just around the next bend, where the trail winds up through pines and then turns down into a small congregation of oaks and maples waiting for the shepherd clouds to water their flock.

You walk on, believing in more than your own flickering shadow that seems to lean forward, falling out of you onto the trail ahead, leading you on toward something you cannot see, but a gift of grace and great goodness you know must be there waiting to splash and drench you with soaking song.

The joyful rainfall must be true.

How else, you think to yourself, to explain your deep, great and abiding thirst?

And then, standing where the sudden daffodils once grew, you hear bells ringing in the distance.

They do not toll the hour.

They ring.

The bells ring true.

Of that, at this moment, you are certain, without seeing to believe.