“This prayer from the Rwala Bedouin people belongs to a richly complex ritual performed by the women when drought threatens. Terrified and trusting, the women create a “Rain Mother” from a stick and women’s clothing, and then girls, led by the woman selected to carry Rain Mother, process from tent to tent chanting a song such as the one that appears below….In the third verse, the leader is weeping because she sees a beloved camel weakening from thirst, perhaps dying, which hints at the catastrophic loss of animals, crops, and human life that may life just ahead.”

O Mother of Rain, rain upon us!

Moisten the cloak of our shepherd.

O Mother of Rain, rain upon us!
Quench our thirst with torrential rains.
O Mother of Rain, rain upon us!
Give us our portion from Allah’s stores.
O Mother of Rain, rain upon us!
Cause torrents of water to fall over us.

O Mother of rain, rain upon us!
We are tormented by this thirst.
O Mother of rain, have mercy on us,
Dust clouds are making us blind.
O Mother of Rain, come to our aid,
The specter of death speeds toward us.
O Mother of Rain, O famished one,
The great cold is destroying us.

Place me upon my camel.
Hold back whoever would restrain me.
The tears of my eyes are used up.
Spent for those who have already gone.

The news on our own doorstep, if we’re paying attention, can readily evoke this depth of longing for balance in nature and provision of every creature’s needs.

Additional reading:
Sacred Voices: Essential Women’s Wisdom Through the Ages, edited by Mary Ford-Grabowsky (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002).

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