The lights— strung free of care and full of invitation along the wooden fence on our back deck— twinkled merrily thanks to the sporadic falling of raindrops. It was a night to savor, a night for Scotch from sauterne casks. The brisk aroma of thunder paired with the golden burn of liquor enlivened me at my core, heightening my sense of presence for this punctured moment of time. I could feel the fullness of myself in the space of our circle. I could hear the raindrops that splashed freely on our faces and plinked their chorus of crystallized collisions upon our snifters of Scotch.
The day had felt typical, burdened with the same questions and longings and struggles that the day before it had borne. But now, now with darkness and twinkle lights and rain and Scotch, it was something entirely different. It was a space pregnant with memory and laughter; it was sacred.
“Isn’t it funny how we run from rain so often, and now we find ourselves basking in it?” Dad smiled. Only when you have all of his heart and mind in the room will Dad ask such a question. “We don’t run from rain! We have never run from rain.” Her words playfully tumbled from her mouth. Mom was poised to share something about who we are, we, those crazy Johnsons.
“Do you remember when we were unbelievably poor and living in Baltimore with Katy in that tiny box of a house where the rent was more than one of your paychecks?” Even though she was speaking to Dad, she was also speaking to everyone. We were all partaking in oral tradition. She was telling the tales of old so we, both Johnsons and friends, could know where we had come from and could ponder how to tell our own stories. She continued, “Back then, all the days were hard days and bad days, and we can safely assume that this day was no exception.” She chuckled, “But on this day it was raining buckets, and Mark decided to cut some holes in a trash bag and stuck Katy in it so she could go play.”
Dad chimes in, “I was just trying to keep her dry so she could have fun.”
Mom continued, “She must have been like 14 months. He ran out in the street with her and put her right in the rushing current of all the gutter water. I remember that she laughed and shouted with glee, flipping her tiny pigtails around as she looked at all of the water tearing past her. It was the most white-trash looking thing I have ever seen, and it was so different from how I grew up… and it was the best day ever.”
We all laughed, and I thought of all of the moments since then when I have stood out in the rain: heavy days, heart-wrenching days, perfect days, prayer-filled days, song-filled days, ordinary days. So many memories, each held with gratitude.
In many of those moments, I have often felt as if the water is still rushing around me, threatening to pull me under or sweep me away. I think of the unending tension that I seem to wade in. And despite that current of ambivalence, I think of the cry in my heart to be out in the depths… because I want to be a part of something miraculous— to walk on water—to continue to giggle and play in a space beyond my control.
As I grow older, life grows more complex. And with the complexity, it grows easier to allow sacred moments to slip away in routine or disappointment. But mine is a story of raindrops and raging currents, and at my core I have tasted and now bear an insatiable longing for more.
My brother sent me a song that puts stunning words to this longing of mine; perhaps it can do the same for you.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 24 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.