Recently I came across Longfellow’s poem, “The Rainy Day”, and since hearing it I’ve thought of it often. Back in the fall, during one of Chicago’s windy rainstorms, I thought about sharing it here:
The Rainy Day – Longfellow
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
I love this poem. I love the language, and the way that the writer offers hope, but even in doing so, he doesn’t shy away from the sometimes brutal realities that unfortunately make up so much of life here.
When the Rain is Overwhelming
Rainy days feel like particularly appropriate ones to dwell on these words. On a city, national, and even global level, it feels to me like we are in the middle of a constant rainstorm. With the city of Chicago moving into our second stay-at-home order of the year last fall, COVID rates fluctuating and mostly rising, and societal discord at a consistent high, the overwhelm continues as hope feels harder and harder to come by. I think as a society, we’re exhausted; and many of us to an unfathomable extent as this specific exhaustion is piled on to an already exhausting life of oppression at so many different levels. For many of us, the rain comes in waves. For many more, I would imagine it feels more like that second stanza – more constant, even if it’s just for a season.
Acknowledging the Rain
I think it’s so important for us to acknowledge our pain. “Some days must be dark and dreary.” While the rain might look different for each of us, we’ll all experience some of it. And when we’re in it, it seems counterintuitive but I think it can be so helpful and powerful to acknowledge the reality of the darkness, before skipping to the hope. Longfellow gives us two stanzas of darkness, two stanzas to really comprehend and digest the weight of the dreariness. We need to recognize suffering for what it is, validate the burden of it, and then we encourage each other in the overcoming of it. The encouragement won’t mean much if it’s coming from a lack of understanding or minimizing. However, when it comes from the understanding of the depth of one’s pain, the hope is more real.
So for everyone reading this on a rainy day, know this: that life will have rainy days. Sometimes we’ll walk ourselves right into them, sometimes they come upon us uninvited. Either way, let’s acknowledge that suffering. Pay attention to it, give it space. Let yourself feel overwhelmed or sad or angry, and then, look for the hope. Maybe it’s connecting with a friend, maybe it’s reading stories of victory. Maybe it’s calling a therapist. Because as Longfellow reminds us, the dark days do end; “behind the clouds, is the sun still shining.”
If this resonates with you, if you are struggling to find hope in a rainy day or a rainy season, or if it’s been years since you’ve seen the sun! Know that you are not alone. Any one of our therapists would love to sit with you in it. Give us a call today!
Written by therapist Clair Miller
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