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Yemeni Journey

Then Came the Rain

This morning we were sent the gift of rain. Month after month of dry, hot, humid weather, the sky an unforgiving blue so light it was almost white…and then this morning, rain.

Khalil and I sat by by sea, watching the village fishing fleet heading out at sunrise, the sound of their motors swallowed by the great heartbeat of the sea. A few dark clouds were scattered across the sky, glowering slightly at the dry earth below- but if I have learned one thing here on the coast of the Arabian Sea, it is that clouds like that rarely fulfill their promise of rain. So we perched on a pile of rocks (probably sharing them with several crabs, but I try not to think about that), holding hands and enjoying being, and being together. Then Khalil said, “No one’s around- lift up your veil.” I did, and I felt the tiny kisses of the softly falling rain, and I remembered.

A few months after coming to Yemen, we moved to a lovely little village in the mountains north of Sana’a. We had heard there was a rainy season, but after a couple of months of living there had yet to experience it. It seems like it was late in coming, as they began doing the rain prayer at the masjid. I was going through a tough time then; my sister was dying out of reach on the other side of the world, and I was feeling alone and out of control. For a recovering anorexic, feeling out of control is one of the things that can set one back to destructive habits, and I was fighting that as well.

The email came on a sunny, bright morning- my brother writing to tell me that Patty had finally passed in the night. My husband was at work, it was just the children and me at home. I gave the baby to my oldest son and went to hang the laundry up on the roof. As I walked up the steps, he called up to tell me that they had held another rain prayer. In the numbness of my soul, I dismissed this as being fruitless, meaningless. I pushed open the metal door and stepped out into the morning air, and breathed a breath of…rain?

And it fell. The rain fell, first gently, caressing, and I turned my face up to receive its grace. I dropped the basket of clothes and walked to the edge of the roof, and leaned over just as the rain began to come down in sheets. As I watched the dry earth soak up the blessed water, I felt a little knot inside of me loosen, and with the release of the rain from a sky that had held its breath for months, I allowed myself to mourn Patty’s death, and celebrate her life, and to be reminded of the beauty and order and greater wisdom that is always there, even when my eyes are closed, if I simply open my heart.

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6 comments

Janet Riehl on June 8, 2011 4:20 am Reply

Khadijah,

I lived in Botswana for many years where the weather must be similar. The sacred cheer there is “Pula!” which means rain.

I feel the rain on my face in your piece. And the healing release of your tears.

Janet Riehl

Khadijah on June 8, 2011 5:02 am Reply

Janet-
I love it when it rains here- everyone runs out and just enjoys it. The Yemeni children have umbrellas and run and jump in the rain. My children skip the umbrellas, and dance and play, faces upraised. But all the children, mine and the Yemeni’s, are laughing and yelling “matr! matr!” (rain!).
Me, I dance around some too, and think, “Allaahu Akbar!” (Allaah is the Greatest)
Thank you for commenting, come back and visit often.

Thurayah Stoehr on June 21, 2011 1:32 pm Reply

Yesterday was like that for me. My husband left for work at 4:30 am for a job, finally after over a year of trying to find work that he could do and also allow him to keep up his photography on the side. At 8:00 am he was pulling in the drive. The medical exam had found an irregular heart beat and he was dismissed on the spot after only two days of work. We held each other for a while, he changed his clothes and headed for the studio. It started to rain. I went back in the house, grabbed my hat and spent the day outside in the rain tending to my poorly neglected garden and letting the rain wash away my disbelief, sadness and rage.

Khadijah on June 21, 2011 2:19 pm Reply

Oh Thurayah, I know how much that job meant to you and you husband. I am so glad that you found solace in your garden…and that you have a strong, deep faith and spirituality that can help you get through this. Insh’Allaah things will start looking up- as Allaah says, “Indeed, after the hardship, comes the ease…”

albolandee on January 7, 2013 1:04 am Reply

Asalam aleykum
U mention ur husband went work?
Did he work in dammaj?
Could u tell me please what was ur means of support while in Yemen

JazakAllah khair

Khadijah on January 13, 2013 4:57 pm Reply

Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
My husband did not work while we were in Damaaj, mash’Allaah, but he was employed when we were in Sana’a, Ma’bar, and Shihr. He is a computer technician and web developer, alhamdulillah. We also had some income from book sales and other projects, alhamdulillah.