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

(Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founding President and CEO of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence.


  1. Teresa R on April 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    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

  2. Sarah on April 6, 2014 at 8:42 am

    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.

  3. Bob Bremer on March 30, 2014 at 7:15 am

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

  4. Kristin on March 26, 2014 at 12:19 pm

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

  5. Melvina Hayes on March 26, 2014 at 9:36 am

    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.

  6. Gracie Johnson on March 26, 2014 at 5:07 am

    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.

  7. Cindy Hambrook on March 25, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Beautiful Ruth.
    Thank you.

    Cindy Hambrook

  8. Mary on March 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    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.

  9. Ruth Barton on March 25, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    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!

  10. celeste on March 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm

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

  11. Kathleen on March 25, 2014 at 3:28 pm

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

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

  13. DarlaAnn Kratzer on March 25, 2014 at 11:07 am

    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.

  14. Cal Elifson on March 25, 2014 at 9:39 am

    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!


  15. Biz on March 25, 2014 at 8:33 am

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

  16. Nancy McLendon on March 25, 2014 at 5:30 am

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

  17. Rhodara Shreve on March 25, 2014 at 5:10 am

    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.

  18. Jim Lee on March 25, 2014 at 5:06 am

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

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