Sitting against this washed up log at the beach, I can’t recall the last time I’ve eaten. My stomach feels like it is eating itself inside out, and my body is weak and weary from all I have been through. I have not shaved in months and the hair on my head has grown long and natty. There is no solace in sight, except for the momentary sense of peace I feel when I glance over the vast expanse of sand and ocean ahead of me.
I pick up a fistful of sand and watch as it slips through my hand onto the dune below; it reminds me of rain falling from the sky. Just as rain merges with lakes, rivers, and oceans again, upon reaching the beach, the sand also merges with the beach as though the two had never been separate. I am reminded that water and sand transform their shape to adapt to their new environments.
Just as sand and water can change form, I too have changed since last time I came to this place. Imagining the sand in its mirror state reminds me of a time when I saw myself yet did not realize it. I was in a torturous state of despair and nothing was going my way; my wife was threatening to leave and company I founded was rapidly disintegrating. Knowing that I was losing my two greatest loves felt like a dagger had been thrust into my heart and twisted without mercy.
Years ago, I had heard of a great shaman, a rainmaker, who supposedly had the ability to transform lives. I was skeptical of this “praying for rain” stuff, but in my current state I was in no position to argue. I have heard that beggars can’t be choosers, but until that moment I never truly understood what that meant..
As I approached the rainmaker, he sat in quiet contemplation. He was not dressed like I imagined he would be. Over his white button down shirt, a black business jacket and tie exuded power. This seemed to be in stark contrast from the tattered jeans and sandals he was wearing. Despite all of this, he seemed vaguely familiar to me but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why.
After some time, he stood up and said, “It is done.” That’s when I knew this “rainmaker” was just another gimmick… a circus clown whose only mark that day was a washed-up has-been looking for an easy out. With great skepticism, I asked “Where’s the chanting and dancing? How will the rain come if you don’t pray?”
“You have mistaken me. I do not pray for rain. I ‘pray rain.’ I see in my mind the rain falling. I feel it splash upon my shoulders, soak my hair and muddy the sand below my feet and between my toes. I hear the the pitter-patters and splatters as the rain falls upon everything in my awareness.”
An eternity seemed to pass before he spoke again. “It will rain.” I did not realize that he meant this in ways I could not understand until today. Not until right now, as I am sharing my story with you, do I finally know the rain.
On that day, however, I waited for the rain. I was so lost that I needed to believe in this rainmaker. In fact, I was so desperate that I even prayed for the rain myself. After what seemed like another eternity, the rain finally fell.
The torrential rain poured down so that I could not recognize anything… not even myself. Only then did the rainmaker reveal to me what his secret was. If I wished to control my destiny, he said I must learn to guide destiny. His actual words were, “You must become destiny,” whatever that means. Having read a lot about the power of visualization, I experienced and knew first hand what must be done. Or so I thought.
Since I couldn’t see anything anyway, I sat and closed my eyes. I imagined my marriage full of joy, laughter and gratitude. I saw my company thriving and myself abundantly wealthy. These visions of hope became the foundation of the destiny I was choosing to create. .
After the rain lightened, I began to walk back home. I spent the entire time visualizing my successes and repeating positive affirmations within my mind and occasionally out loud if nobody else was around. After seeing the rain fall with such force, I had become a believer in the power of praying for rain.
Upon returning home, I sensed a renewed connection between my wife and I. She brought me inside, helped me dry off and put on new clothes, and she prepared my favorite drink for me: hot chocolate with peppermint. Things seemed different, wonderful, and though I had learned to pray for rain only moments before, I could already see its benefits.
The next day at work, I called a staff meeting to share what I had learned. I gave a tutorial on praying for rain, and I hung several posters with positive affirmations to remind everybody at every corner.. I went so far as to mandate that every employee spend thirty minutes per day visualizing the company’s success.
After only a few short years, my company thrived again. I was not a millionaire, but I did have enough money to enjoy my favorite things like travel and fine dining. Not only that, my relationship with my wife seemed to be better than ever. It had taken a few years for us to reach that point, and for my company to finally regain its strength, but but it was all worth it.
At my wife’s urging, we assigned most of our assets to the company to improve our individual financial position. This allowed us to deduct all our home, cars, and living expenses directly from the company bankrolls as benefits. Basically, this resulted in us making more money and paying less taxes to the government.
Life was amazing, and even that would be an understatement. In my wildest dreams, I could have never have imagined a destiny so grand. Or so I thought…
I had been enamored with my recent successes, that I was oblivious to the the fact that my wife had not been through the same experiences I had. I did not realize that any gratitude or warmth she displayed to me was primarily a reflection of what I was presenting to her. Apparently, she had her own aspirations and dreams that she stopped sharing with me after a few years of marriage.
I had no idea how bitter she became over the years. She grew tired of my enlarged ego and living in my shadow as “The Mrs” and it was reaching a tipping point. Though I had changed that day at the beach with the rainmaker, I never understood that the damage to my marriage had been done long before then. My wife had been waiting for the right time to strike.
And strike she did. When I was at my peak, she showed a side of me that I’d never seen before with a cold and devastating divorce. Since the company paid for almost everything, we only had two things to split: the $100,000 we saved, and the company that I owned. On top of that, I had to pay her alimony.
Her ownership in the company created one of the worst situations possible. I had never planned for anybody to own the company other than myself, so the bylaws that had been in place were inadequate for a situation like this. She became empowered to make decisions, but her lack of business knowledge resulted in severe damages to the company.
She thought she was doing the company a favor when she told the employees that they didn’t have to “pray for rain” anymore and she took down the positive affirmation posters .She told the employees that if it didn’t work for her marriage, it certainly wasn’t going to work for the company either. The office became our battleground, and every time I took a day off work for reprieve, my wife would tell the company to do things she knew I would not approve of.
Within a matter of months, she took away everything I loved. She destroyed the pedestal of greatness I had been standing upon, and no matter how much I prayed for rain, the spiral of destruction continued downward. She made my life a living hell… a hell which I desperately wanted out of. I sold my half of the company to her new husband and left with enough money to last a few months.
During that time, the country went into a depression and nobody would hire me except the local fast food restaurants. I was too ashamed to work at any of them after all the success I had experienced, I eventually became hungry and homeless.
I am tired of scavenging for breadcrumbs from dumpsters. I can’t remember the last time I had a roof over my head nor a warm meal in my belly, and there seems to be no way out of this mess except for the unfathomable suicide. Now that I think about it, it would be pretty easy to just step over the cliff off to my left.
The irony of this situation strikes me the way lightning splits a tree in half. I am standing on the cliff above the same beach where I met that cursed rainmaker. I despise that man who taught me the “pray for rain” technique, I despise my ex-wife, and I especially despise my life. Falling forward, I plummet towards the ground as the wind rushes through my hair.
What the…? You’ve got to be kidding me.
As if my situation couldn’t get any worse, a tree broke my fall and both of my legs. This is ridiculous. Why can’t I die when I have nothing to live for? Not a single damned thing. The strangest thing is happening though; my wretchedly empty stomach hurts even more than my legs. As much as I desperately want the pain of my broken legs to dissipate, I’m starting to wonder if the real reason I wish I were dead right now is to relieve me of my thrashing stomach.
Really, is it too much to ask for just a little piece of bread? I can see it… is my mind playing tricks on me? The bread is surreal like the mirage of an oasis in the desert. At the same time, the bread looks unmistakably real. I see the brown crust curving around the softest, most delicate fluffy dough. There’s even some little holes in the bread, as though it were waiting for a slice of perfectly matched swiss cheese.
I feel the roughness of the crust in my hand and against my lips as I bite. This is the best sourdough bread I’ve ever had. I feel it changing from bread to mush as I chew, and I experience my first delight in months as this single piece of bread fills my stomach. My hunger pangs cease as the bread and I merge. This is the best piece of bread I’ve never had.
Suddenly, I shake my head fiercely upon realizing what a torturous delusion I had! I snap out of it and find myself still on the beach with two broken legs, no wife, no money, no home, and an empty stomach. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place; if I stay where I am, eventually I will die of starvation, yet the pain of dragging myself to the ocean to drown myself seems equally unbearable.
This dilemma has become surprisingly irrelevant as I look up at the ocean. The rainmaker is moving towards me, and he’s now close and propping me up against the log. From inside his long brown cape, he opens a small leather pouch and takes out a piece of bread identical to the one I imagined. The rainmaker looks into my eyes in such a way that I feel a unique combination of fear and safety.
“Now you understand what it means to ‘pray rain,'” he says. “It cannot be seen, heard, or even felt. It is not in your mind, it is something you experience within the greatest depths of your being.”
As I thank him for the bread, I reach to his shoulder but the impossible is happening before me. His shoulder is no longer there, and within my grip is a fistful of sand sifting through fingers and returning to the beach. Sitting against this log, I now see the rainmaker as he is. I see him as the sand and the ocean, as the clouds and the mirror, as he is…
This short spiritual story wwas written by Chris Cade in hopes of entertaining and enlightening people through imagination and challenging the way each of us perceives the world. Learn more about him at http://www.ChrisCade.com