The forecast in our region was for cooler temperatures – yeay! That’s due to scattered thunderstorms. Forgive the pun, but it put a damper on some of my plans.
Undaunted, I took my hourly walks around the neighborhood despite the forecast. Between cloudbursts I had a revelation: The preeminent times of my life occurred between cloudbursts.
Storms are a mixed blessing. They not only nourish and cleanse the earth, freshening the air, but they can also cause some astounding damage. That pretty well describes my family’s history. Metaphorically, tempests formed our lives – together and individually. Winds brought limbs down, lightning started fires that consumed everything familiar, burnt us and tore our family apart at times.
And yet we lived. Can I hear a hallelujah?!
Most of my family members enjoy above-average lifestyles now, despite having experienced several very close strikes and some direct hits. You’ve probably never felt like you needed to throw or hit something lest you explode. We feel that way sometimes. I’m not especially proud of my 78 m.p.h. pitches. We still freeze at the sight of some old photos or some familiar-looking strangers. Then there are those moments when we go from serene to raging tempests in a heartbeat. Or mention certain names and my mind goes blank as if it had just been erased. I came through all that while trying to understand letters and words that rarely looked or sounded right. Still, I learned.
“But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat…” Isaiah 25:4
Twisted as it sounds, I like to remember the moments after my son returned from Iraq in four-plus pieces – after the surgeon told me to prepare myself for the worst. I wondered if they actually rehearse those insipid lines. I recall unintentionally staring the man down for what he later described as “an uncomfortably long pause.” I remember thinking through what he’d told me, wondering who on earth does his hair, and recalling everything God promised me. All I said to the doctor was, “You obviously don’t know Who you’re dealing with.”
And I love to remember Nathan’s second first steps weeks later.
Around and in between all that I:
- danced alone in the rain along the Mogollon Rim,
- loved with abandon,
- sang to the Blue Mountains at sunset,
- looked into the eye of a whale off the starboard deck,
- coasted down Jerome, Arizona’s roads at midnight by moon light only,
- ran with wolves, wolf-dogs and mustangs,
- watched my sons learn to dive, hit home runs, graduate, be inducted into the military and fire houses, drive cars, trucks and tanks (God spared us all), fall in love, weep as they became fathers and paced the floors with their babies,
- and a hummingbird rested on my knee as I rested during my yard work.
Though Seagh actually went on ahead without the rest of us, he’s safe and at peace now. We’re all still standing. Some days we’re stronger than others, but we dance in the rain and breathe easy between cloudbursts.
What brings it all into perspective is my family is only one minute particle of humanity, and yet, God cares for us as if each one is His only child.
“I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:2 (NLT)