The rain started while I was on the bus home, the clouds breaking over the humid day with a thunderclap that made us all jump in unison, grinning like fools as we watched the world turn wet again. I was soaked by the time I got home from the bus stop, but I ran up to the roof with my neighbors to gather up the laundry. I waved to the little girls next door and the women across the street, all on their roofs doing the same. We ran laughing down the stairs and dumped the clothes out unceremoniously on the living room floor and then gathered at the window to watch the rain. It came down hard, running over hard-packed dirt in the streets, washing away dust we’d forgotten was even there. We breathed it in. Om Yassar murmured verses from the Qur’an while her daughter explained to me that the first rain after the summer was something holy, something to be revered. And as I stood there watching it I knew exactly what she meant. We leaned as far out the window as we could get and waved at our neighbors in the houses all around us, all gathered at their windows grinning and taking it in.
It was a long, dry summer. We saw tremendous joy and tremendous pain. We worked in 100 degree weather and fasted during the longest days of Ramadan in 33 years. We watched as the riots and war and fighting broke out all around us and, like everyone else, we tried to do the best we could. But today we threw our heads back and were soaked in the rain of the new season and it felt, just as it always does, like a benediction.