Rain Dance

21 April 2008

I’m not what I would call religious by nature. Once in a while, however, you witness something remarkable, granting reason to ponder the matter further.

Last Sunday I awoke to sounds of a distant chant long entrusted to bring with it the rain that abandons this dusty land for nearly half the year. Slowly the song of Pieri’s elders seemingly surrounded our compound and enveloped the entire village with music. Elders who came to pray under the sacred tree that lives between our compound and MSF’s clinic accompanied the ancient harmony.

For an hour ladies danced around this tree and prayed to the sky to bring forth the rain and discard the drought that turns this land into desert. A daunting task for even the most devout among the dancing elders considering there hasn’t been a rain cloud over Pieri for months.

As hours passed, their singing was burned away by noon's hot sun. Afternoon turned into dusk and then dusk disappeared into something dare I say miraculous. Slowly, Pieri’s blue sky became cloaked in the blackest of clouds, at a pace that mirrored the steady summoning beat used just hours earlier. Thunder growled in the distance as if woken from a seasonal slumber. The thunder must have startled the swathe of dark cloud because the rain fell in a manner that felt accidental. Not enough rain to call a cascade but sufficient enough to shower the evening in the idea that perhaps the songs of the past can lead to harmony in the future.

This piece is for our guard Nhial (Nhial is rain in Nuer).

Salutations from the South,