Have you ever felt the Rain?
How I was reminded of the sacredness of water
Last night they came, the first rains. Describing the feeling that comes with it is close to impossible. It's that mixture of excitement, joy, gratefulness and the deep knowing that we have been blessed by nature. It's the releasing moment of all the tension, fear, sorrow that weeks and months without a drop of water can cause..never knowing when the dry period will end, always hoping that it will. "A farmer is the last one to loose hope", that's what Brother Francis always tells me, and I believe it's true.
Him like everyone else here making their living from farming never lost hope until now, even after 3 consecutive rain-seasons had failed...that is more than 1 year without serious rain falls. He remembers the time – and even I do – when we could rely on the rains arriving as expected, when the farms were prepared in time and never failed to get enoug water. When we knew rain season doesn't just mean rains, it means african rains, pouring down from heaven in an intensity that can just leave you speechless, also because the sound of these floods from above on our iron sheet roofs don't allow any word to make it through;)
Feeling the lack of water
The last year has been one of the hardest for East Africa. While the world was busy counting Covid numbers, parts of countries like Kenya, Somalia, Ethopia counted the death of humans and animals due to lasting droughts... an estimated number of 250.000 children in East Africa have died of starvation as by december 2021, over 12 Million humans are threatened by the effects of this historical drought. These numbers are estimations and statistics are surely never as reliable as those for other disasters happening in the world...
Where we're staying here, in the plains around Mt Kenya, Central Kenya, it's known a quite fertile, green area. The ground water level is quite high, wells can help to overcome the dry seasons. Beginning of 2021 our Project Kandongu managed to compelte a well project, which since then served to secure water for the farm, for drinking water and for daily water use for the whole school, including teachers living on the ground and the brother's community.
This year, the well has reached an alarmingly low level. The water couldn't serve the farm anymore and our bording kids (over 30 children who live here at the school during school months) didn't have water for cleaning, washing, showering. So trips to the nearby community borewhole became the order of the day. Other regions weren't that lucky. And not everyone has the luxury to carry the water buckets with a school van. Even old men and women carry the water from far or with donkey carts and decide not to wash clothes for weeks, in order to not miss drinking water.
Our school boys pouring water of into our water tank after their daily trip to the community well:
Feeling the sacredness of rain
I remember well these days when I didn't understand fully about the sacredness of rains. Of course I understood their necessity, but I didn't feel it. Any start of rain season automatically triggered in me the "rain mood" I had established in Germany. That mood that has mostly negative connotations, that comes with"Shitwheather-mood", which means low mood or even depressive phases for some. It means "better stay in bed until everything is over". For many years I was surprised when the rains set in and everyone here in Kenya was just cheering, excited, joyful and talking about blessings that had arrived. Obviously... yet it took many years for my inner patterns to change and for me to be able to really feel the rain and the blessings that come with it.
I'd like to cite some lines of a book I read some months back. Unfortunately I lost access to the full source of information and the author's name. A Namibian women, who had moved to Western after many years remembers:
"When we look out of our windows and the light rain splashes against the panes, we usually do not run out of the house to greet it. Nor do we dance a rain dance with the neighbours to express our joy for the deliciously cool wet from which all life emerges.
Not like in Namibia, where whole families gather for a picnic to celebrate the rain.
Have we forgotten wonder and gratitude? Or do we no longer know how to give expression to this elementary feeling of happiness at being alive, because other customs prevail here and in adulthood? Is rain no longer a blessing from heaven because we thought we no longer had to ask for it?"
My friends here do remember the times when the elders of the village would gather to go to places around Mt. Kenya that were sacred to them. They went to pray for rain at moments where there was no cloud to be seen. They went there and came back after hours: accompanied by heavy rains. That was before Christianity had fully overtaken...
During the last weeks of drought, dust, easily outbreaking fires and the atmosphere of rising tension, seeing the crops drying up compeltely and fearing whether this expected rain season will fail again, I found myself many times with that wishful thinking that the elders could still own the practices of these old times, would still know where to go, would know how to pray to reconnect to nature and bring the rains back.
"Is rain no longer a blessing from heaven because we thought we no longer had to ask for it?"
Whatever spiritual or non-spiritual connection we might have in different places to the circles of life, I wish for everyone to once experience that feeling of being blessed deeply with the gift of life from heaven: rains. That feeling that you would like to cry of joy and dance of excitement about that life giving gift from nature.
What is your first thought when it starts raining where you are?
The East African drought is not over yet. This first night of rain falls doesn't safe anyone or any farm. We're still praying for rains, each in his or her own way. And myself I'm praying that people in places as where I come from would feel, that this drought is not an African drought. It is a drought of our planet, a drought of humanity and the rains are the needed blessings for all of us to continue living.
Note: An update about the ongoing processes in the projects will follow soon. A heartfelt Thank You to all supporters for your patience.
As I'm finishing these lines, a rainbow appears above our school. I'm glady sharing this picture with you: