Friday, November 13, 2009

The Four Elements: Wetting Reception

Part 3 of 4

© 2009
by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Rain drenches us; it ruins our plans. It tends to make us feel depressed and to declare that the day has gone downhill.

Yet rain—water—cleanses, and changes in plans often hold hidden blessings. Downpours drive us indoors where we can be closer to our family and ourselves—the actions, people, and things that form our foundations and replenish us daily. It can drive us inward to contemplate, reorganize, and wonder about the meaning of life … how the events in our everyday dramas add up to something bigger. We can listen to our favorite music while tinkering around the house, tackling a put-off project, or treating ourselves to some bonus relaxation. Consider curling up with your favorite magazine, book, or source of encouragement with the rain splattering on the roof as background music.

Getting wet is a refreshing back-to-nature experience, if you look at it with the wide eyes of a child. In our high-tech culture, too often we are literally not in touch with the elements and the magnificence all around us. Remember when you were a kid, opening your mouth, tilting back your head, and hoping you could gather enough drops for a drink of fresh rainwater?

The element water probably holds its own special place for you. For me, it was often a scary place. My mother’s fear of water rubbed off on me. (She almost drowned as a child.) But I was bent on overcoming it. It took me nothing short of 50 tries to get up on water skis for the first time. As I grew up, I discovered the muscle-soothing heaven of a whirlpool and floating down the river in a rubber raft in the lazy days of summer.

Rivers themselves are home to me, and I bless the day that I migrated to a city with two of them. My friends and I hold ceremonies celebrating the changes of seasons, milestone birthdays, and weddings on the banks of the American River. In the Native American Medicine Wheel, the element water is associated with the West, the color blue, feelings, the season fall, and the setting sun. It always feels right this time of year to create our own ceremonial circle surrounded by the element autumn celebrates.

I soothe myself with lunch on the Sacramento or overlooking the American. Driving down the Delta Highway is heaven. The closer I am to water, the more I am alive … not to mention the two liters a day that I drink. The more I get, the more I want. What I once feared, I now crave … and none of us can live without it.

Water symbolizes emotions, no more literally than in our tears. There is a popular wedding blessing: Let there be such oneness between us, that when one cries, the other will taste salt. Tears are the rain of intimacy. Soggy days, as my dad used to call them after my mom died, are the thunderstorms of loss and disconnection. They are the release that clears the air and revitalizes the atmosphere. Without them, we can’t love again.

The astrological Water Signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.

Movies, our great cultural barometer, have seen rain. Gene Kelly was Singin’ (and Dancin’) in the Rain, showing us the best time in water since our rubber ducky. On the side of soggy days that never end, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a ‘60s, soapy French musical, is set in a rainy town where the heroine, played by a young Catherine Deneuve, sells umbrellas--les parapluies-- in a small shop. She goes on to face love lost with all its heartbreak, a tearjerker that could only be set in the rain.

And let’s not forget surfer movies, shipwrecked themes— stranded on an island surrounded by water—the lightweight beach blanket genre, water theme park, and submarine flicks. More recently, the myth of her people’s Whale Rider helps a young aboriginal girl in New Zealand triumph over centuries of male tradition to take her rightful place as chief. There’s even a water horror genre—Jaws.

But closer to home: Baths and showers can elevate water to a sacred experience. Candles, soft music, and plenty of aromatherapy crystals turn a bath tub into an altar and a celebration of letting go. Water has a high place in our lives. As babies, we are baptized in it. Catholics cross themselves—a sacred gesture—with holy water, not clumps of dirt or sparks of fire. And one of the sweetest ways we can leave life and our earthly remains behind us it to have our ashes scattered at sea.

We water our plants and lawn, a ritual to help nature and help us mark time in our impatience till the flowers bloom. Where I come from, winters are cold, wet, and rainy. Winter beats down on our windows, but spring and summer and water hoses create an illusion of some temporary control over this element we can’t grasp, but only let flow.

On the other hand, when our actions are less than brilliant, people wonder if we have enough sense to come in out of the rain. I hope not.

Hug your next rain shower and experience the element water. Write down what it feels like and what you learn. There’s a reason why most of us and our gorgeous globe is made up of H2O. Go discover it!

Then, to take it a step further, ask yourself: What other changes in weather, literal and figurative, make me balk? What treasures am I missing—resisting?


Photo Credit: THE BEAUTY OF RAIN © Lyoung403b |

Four Element Series

Air - Air Born
Fire - Hearts Afire
Earth - I Dig Earth!


Eileen Williams said...

You bring to light so many aspects of life I generally take for granted and I need to thank you once more for making my little gray cells happy. You do get me to thinking!
Water, like fire, has it's positives and negatives.You can wash with it and feel refreshed, or you can drown in it. Our bodies are made up mostly of water so, in many ways, it's far more positive than not. In fact, when you come to think of it, being "all wet" is a great thing!

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks, Eileen! You must have known Tim and I are going to watch a Poirot episode tonight. "The world's greatest detective" always talks about his "little gray cells."

Life is an interplay and balance of the four elements. I love taking time to smell (air) the roses (earth) on a sunny day (fire), which can often bring a tear of joy (water) to my eye!

Glad you are enjoying the series.