Praying to the Rain God

In “Looking for a Rain God” by Bessie Head, a desperate farmer sacrifices his two young daughters to the Rain God. Quoting from the book:

“The subtle story of strain and starvation and breakdown was inadmissible evidence at court; but all the people who lived off crops knew in their hearts that only a hair’s breath had saved them from sharing a fate similar to that of the Mokgobja family. They could have killed to make the rain fall.”

  • Write a short piece in which a character makes a ritual sacrifice as a means to an end.
  • You needn’t actually kill anyone. Think in terms of personal sacrifices that will get your character what he wants.


It has rained steadily for two days. Water stands inches-deep in the streets, and passing cars splash water thigh-high to people on the pavement.

Rain, blessed rain. I write from London where we’ve had several days of lovely rain. Maybe not so lovely for Londoners, but we in Eastern Colorado have been without rain or snow for so long that the rain feels like a blessing to me.

And writing of blessings that go beyond the mere laying on of hands, I must mention reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. What a gentle rain of a book! Not the driving London rain we’ve had the past few days, but a spring ground-soaker that stirs the snowdrops and the daffodils.

The novel is one, long, stream-of-consciousness letter written by Reverend John Ames, age 76. He is dying of heart failure. Feeling his life slip away, Ames writes to his seven-year-old son.

Spurred on by his poor health and memories of an uneasy relationship with his own father (an activist minister during the Civil War), John Ames wants to leave his legacy-to give something of himself and his philosophy to his young son. The wool-gathering letter is his means of doing so.

Although Ames is a man-of-the-cloth and Gilead is a spiritual book, the novel transcends religion. Slowly, with humor, self-doubt, and more questions than answers, this Everyman lifts those of faith and no faith.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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