In praise of... the refreshment of rain

When the sun started beaming down on us in early summer it was a joyous blessing. British summers being uncertain affairs, we made the most of what could turn out to be a fleeting visit. But now, after several sweltering, sticky weeks of heatwave, the sun's intensity has most definitely outstayed its welcome. Yes, we've enjoyed ice cream, al fresco meals and an uninterrupted Wimbledon; but we've also endured heavy, humid nights, heat blazing up from parched earth and concrete, and buses and trains transformed into mobile saunas. Given our normal climate, our homes are built to conserve heat, not repel it, and whatever air conditioning we have can be a hit or miss affair.

But there are small compensations. Just beyond my window a host of butterflies and bees are making the most of the lavender, whose perfume rises up, as if in thanksgiving, whenever I tip water over it. The scent of jasmine fills a corner of our garden, hanging languidly in the barely moving air, and bushes are already heavy with ripening blackberries. But oh... how we have secretly longed for the blessed, cooling refreshment of rain... especially with the awareness of just how much our crops and domestic systems are predicated on a plentiful supply of rainwater.

Storms had been forecast for yesterday morning, though they held off over London, where the main anti-Trump march, more than 100,000 strong, was in full, colourful swing. (A work commitment meant I couldn't be there. Instead, as I delivered workshops on Catholic Social Teaching to secondary school pupils, Trump was present in our discussions about human dignity, and ideal international relations. His approval rating among these future voters was as low as low could ever be)

But in the evening, as we ate our dinner and noted a general darkening in the skies, I glanced out and saw the first, large blotches on our patio. Rain! - and in that moment I recalled running into the garden to dance in the rain which broke our legendary heatwave of 1976. Later, we prayed with the rain thrumming on the prayer-room's roof, its rhythm reminding me of this setting of Africa. I think this is the original version, though it's since been covered by other choirs. I listened to it late last night, in the post-rain coolness, the smell of gratefully moistened earth permeating the air. Turn up the volume (especially at the beginning) and enjoy...

PS: It's now the morning after, and the undaunted, undampened sun has returned in good time for the Wimbledon finals...