Season of Returning: Rain at Winter’s End

“Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea!”
I Kings 18:44

I love the way the rain comes at winter’s end

hosing down the sooty earth,

washing away the dirt that comes from who-knows-where.

Oh God,

I need a cleansing rain in my life,

sullied as I am with the grit and grime of these dark years.

My heart is hard and crusty

like patches of old snow in the yard,

my life littered with trash I don’t recognize

and dead, brown grass where it used to be so green.

Today I would settle for a little cloud

no bigger than a person’s hand

far off in the distance

rising out of the sea of this disillusionment.

Today, if I saw such a cloud,

I would run like Elijah—

loins girded,

strengthened by the hand of the Lord

in hopes that I could be there when the deluge came.

Warm rain

softening the hardness of my heart

washing away the pain

enlivening this dead earth.

Today, if I glimpsed even a hint of such a cloud,

I would lay myself down upon the earth

and bow my heart low

Waiting for the miracle that would signal the changing of the season

the end of this drought

the coming of spring

in the winter of my heart.

©Ruth Haley Barton, 2008. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founder and Chief Essence Officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest (Oct 2022).
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Thanks for this poem. We all need to be refreshed by God’s gentle warming rain flowing over us, softening the hard places and getting us ready for new growth

Prompted by your previous article on Lent, I have been praying the ‘Search me O God’ prayer every day. The result has been powerful and disturbing – in a good way. I was then led to re-read “knowing God, Knowing Me’ which in the context of the Meyers Briggs model has challenged me to acknowledge more fully my ‘shadow self’. Again, disturbing! But again, in a good way, a God way. Now today I read your amazing poem. The cloud for me is an outpouring of God’s grace on all of me, the presentable, the angry and the awkward. Thank you, for providing a picture full of feeling that helps me connect my longing to my prayers.

I’m going to look for that little cloud today. I think I’ll see it because I know God loves me.

Thank you so much for this illustrious depiction of the need for rain after a winter season. I love it.

As I read your poem I realize how much I needed a cleansing rain in my life. Thank for reminding me that I still need to be clean.

I received your poem on Monday, and finally found a quiet moment to read it.
Incidently, today is my birthday and this poem is exactly what i needed
as it refreshes me with sprinkles of his awesome love. I am reminded that He is always at
work repairing the damages we have done on a daily basis.
I have been otherwise busy with my mom here at rhe hospital since Friday so in the early
Hours of this day, i am reminded that he is with us refreshing us with life!
Thank you for sharing such an amazing piece Ruth.

Beautiful Ruth.
Thank you.

Cindy Hambrook

Dear Ruth,
Thank you. We are joined together in the ‘waiting’ group ~ and confidently waiting for our faithful heavenly Father who never disappoints us with the promise of spring, new life, new hope and new promise of fulfilling future with Him.

I am so moved by the honesty and tenderness of your comments. Thanks for letting this poem into your lives…thanks for sharing your Lenten journey with me and with us. We are not alone!

Hope is the cloud, rain is the Spirit cleaning our weary souls. Praise Abba from whom all blessings flow.

As I consider this Lent season…I need that cleansing rain in my life!

[…] Season of Returning: Rain at Winter’s End | Transforming Center. […]

So glad I paused today to read your email and discover this poem. I am there…waiting. Thank you for putting me in touch with my own hardness of heart and my longing for God’s cleansing, softening, healing rain.

I resonate so much with what you wrote. Suddenly I don’t feel so alone. I also feel hope that after a long winter inside and out spring will come!


Love, love, love it! Thank you!
“I would lay myself down upon the earth
and bow my heart low”

God blesses me through you. Thank you for today’s post … and for being real.

This spoke to me today. I love the image of the cloud and the hand rising, the honesty about a place we all have been and the hope that a renewing rain can replenishe and wash away much that sticks to our hearts in hibernation. Bless you today.

That’s beautiful Ruth. Thank you for helping me start my day with thankfulness and anticipation.

Thank you for this! Just what I needed today:)

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