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"You Sat With Me in the Rain"

"You Sat With Me in the Rain"

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Published by Barbara Ohrstrom
This personal narrative describes a moment where one teenager helps another, and in so doing, discovers a spiritual meaning.
This personal narrative describes a moment where one teenager helps another, and in so doing, discovers a spiritual meaning.

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Published by: Barbara Ohrstrom on Feb 06, 2010
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07/12/2013

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“You Sat With Me in the Rain”

I have thought intermittently about a spiritual experience from adolescence: contemplating an experience where I intuited I needed to rescue myself from danger, considering an experience of synchronicity, deciding I did not have any spiritual experiences, and finally realizing I don’t know how to define “spiritual experience.” Then, while reading Jack Kornfield’s “Path With Heart,” I discovered a passage that compared two philosophies – one that articulated putting one’s body through challenges to generate spiritual, mystical experiences, complete with light and ecstasy, and one that articulated making spiritual experiences out of being fully present to ourselves and our relationships. I looked away from the page, and a spiritual duet drifted into my mind. It had been a formerly scorching hot day in the summer, a day so hot that now the rain fell in steady, calm sheets, each drop gently descending in a perfectly straight line, each line keeping an exact spatial relationship to the other lines of drops. The rain was serious; it was not a sprinkling, it was a rain that promised to stay for a few hours and thoroughly soak the fields, the grass, the trees, the berries, the corn, the animals, and yes, the people. I was sitting on a cement shelf in front of the rectangular concrete block of One Stop Shop, the store my adoptive father had once owned before he bankrupted it and us. The cement itself was whitish, chipped in parts, so that the stones which had not been thoroughly pulverized in the making of the cement made marbled bumps that were a pleasure to work one’s fingers under so that one could pry a stone or two loose. The rain had utterly drenched me. I wore no hat, raincoat, or protection of any sort. My jersey shirt clung to me, and my ragged jeans were so wet the water now ran off them because the cloth could absorb no more. My sneakers were filled with water, and I knew once I stood,

the water would jet out of the eyelets in little geysers with each step. None of this disturbed me, however, and I made no attempt to move into shelter although the house I lived in was directly across the street, visible even through the blackened sky, the gray rain, the bruised clouds. I was talking with a kid who had run away from “home”—a “home” filled rage, hatred, abuse, and violence, details which took a hour or so to tell me. She was 14, a year younger than I, and although I cannot remember her name or her exact words, I remember her face, how it still had baby fat and freckles, how the water droplets ran off the ends of her poorly cut hair, how her bag was cheap, how her body was pear shaped. She was not smart—she could not survive. I knew if she succeeded in running away, she would be raped. Butchered. So I patiently talked her into returning to her “home” by first telling her how I too wanted to run away, how I too lived in a “home” filled with rage, hatred, abuse, and violence, I too felt utterly and terrifyingly alone. Then I told her why I had not yet run away from home—I knew I too could not survive. It was a monster’s world, and the monsters had more power, more brutality, and more presence than anyone who could or might have helped either one of us. She stood, finally, and returned the way she had come. I never saw her again, discovered what happened to her, told anyone about this incident, or thought about her. Now I see my advice, my words, were irrelevant: the harm she surely suffered after returning “home” may have been worse than what she might have experienced as a runaway. Nevertheless, when she stood to go, she looked at me and, with simple wonder in her voice, said, “You sat with me in the rain.” In her need, she had spoken the reality of her heart, and in my need, I had sat and let the rain fall on me.

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