The Rains by Sulayman Clark About Dr. Clark Media Resources Store Contact Information
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Chapter One: The Rains

“Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Life rarely if ever, presents us with extended periods of unbroken sunshine. There are many rains – stinging, pelting rains carried by dark clouds that obscure our vision, challenge our faith and separate us from the light.

Chastened by sorrow and unspeakable loss, William Still came to accept such things. Yet he remembered that the rains had also brought him much joy and moments of intense delight. In the twilight of his years, he clung to fond memories of happier days with his first love; a passionate woman who taught him how to love, and surrender himself to her loving embrace and the gentle patter of the rains.

He lived alone now and wrestled with recurring feelings of emptiness and that maddening back and forth between hope and despair. It was a daily struggle not to give in to the latter. She surely would not have approved of such sadness. She would have encouraged him to have faith and look to the future. And as usual, she would be right. He dared not fail her – that special woman who taught him how to find serenity in the soothing sights and sounds of the rains.

Time seemed to collapse in on itself as his days began to run together. Even the years began to fold up against each other like one of those pleated accordions that once spread merriment in the streets of Philadelphia. Many were the days when his tears mingled with the rains and his eyes saw little of the goodness and beauty in the world. His life was slipping away from him and it seemed as though nothing could stop its downward spiral. But that proved not to be the case at all.

It is said that we live in houses constructed from our habitual and innermost thoughts. For a while and much to his detriment, William Still had unconsciously chosen a prison for his dwelling place. It was a seemingly impenetrable fortress without fences or armed guards; a place where happiness would be forever confined, neither let in, nor let out. There he seemed destined to live out the balance of his weary existence. There, but for the grace of God, he would die a despondent and forgotten man, with seldom a skyward glance.

But then came that gray and rainy day in October 1871, when the clouds mercifully parted and he was relieved by a rare occurrence. What first appeared as a tiny glimpse of sunlight, soon gained in strength and intensity as it spread across the dimmed horizon of his troubled soul. Its gentle warmth slowly imposed a spring-like thaw that signaled the end of frozen hope and the beginning of new life. It was then that an emboldened William Still began to patiently hack away at the dense mental thickets that had slowly grown beyond proportion and completely enveloped his mind.

His slow recovery began with a vivid dream that was hatched deep in the inner recesses of his subconscious mind. In it, he wandered through a dense forest where he could barely see the ground beneath his feet. Then came a light beckoning him forward and illuminating a winding path out of the untamed wilderness. He doggedly followed it for a long while. There were indeed moments of hesitancy and indecision. Yet each faithful step added to his confidence and brought him closer and closer to a river—a river whose source was hidden. Following the course of its peaceful flow, he discovered that the mighty river emptied into an ocean of limitless possibilities.

By day’s end, the sun had receded, but he could still feel its warm embrace. He paused for rest and reflection at a once familiar place, where the predictable river met the unfathomable expanse—the infinite sea. Lying on his back, he peered at the impressive moon and the canopy of glimmering stars stretched across the evening sky. They seemed to whisper the universe’s insistence on order and hint at inescapable realities beyond the realm of common understanding.

A peaceful sleep came just before midnight while a murky fog settled in and lingered through dawn. Hours passed until William Still was awakened in the morning by troublesome bodily pains. And there remained subtle but undeniable psychic wounds that perhaps would never be completely healed. Yet he had survived the long, dark night of uncertainty and disillusionment. It was indeed, a defining moment. He stood erect for the first time in a long time and stared confidently at the far horizon. That day, he took on the unmistakable glow of a spiritual warrior who was at once restored by a benevolent sun and renewed by the healing powers of the rains. It was only a dream. Yet, it seemed so very, very real.


Other Excerpts: “The Rains” as Literary Metaphor

By the grace of God, love is a woman. She brings forth life and is a constant source of renewal—much like the rains.

It now fell to him and him alone, to tell these stories and to rescue from oblivion those souls who had been written out of history and were all but forgotten. In the end, it was his sincere wish that these stories would somehow uplift others and be a source of inspiration. Much like the rains, he hoped they would create new life. And, just as the clouds bring forth the rains, he prayed that his humble literary offering would help to replenish the land and reanimate their struggle for a greater America. Like thunderclaps heard from a great distance, he wanted these stories to reverberate across generations, proclaiming again and again an unshakable determination to secure their most sacred liberties.

Despite their recent ordeals, hope stubbornly reappeared and infused their spirits with the solemn sensation of an open horizon stretched out before them. And once again, the timeless lesson rang true. One may not know the precise time of their arrival, but just as night follows day; after the rain comes fair weather.

Time moves on and love abides; even in the silence. Truth, like the rising sun, brings hope for new beginnings. And forgiveness cleanses the soul and replenishes the earth; much like the rains.

The rains cleanse the air and saturate the earth with new possibilities. On some occasions, they come as unexpected harbingers of better days to come. It is always darkest before the dawn. Hope can be fragile and often difficult to maintain amidst despair and the apparent victory of evil over good. Yet it has been proven time and time again that Divine precipitation blesses those who work and wait.

A dense fog began to roll in and dark clouds continued to thicken on the horizon. War, true to its nature, did not arrive in an instant. It came as a gradual building up of thunder.

Octavius was instantly relieved and overtaken with joy. He hugged her tightly, never saying a word. An excruciating weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Tears streamed down his face like divine rains, washing away the stain of his misbehavior.

Outside, the sky was a bright crystal blue. Westward winds blew softly across the Delaware River and into countless opened windows throughout the Seventh Ward. The clouds gently parted as the streets below were splashed with the warm rays of a beneficent sun, proclaiming the recurring triumph of light over darkness. Cleansing breezes spread the last remnants of moisture throughout a bustling city preparing itself to receive the bountiful blessings of a new day. Hope, glorious hope reappeared. And once again, the rains had fulfilled their purpose.

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