Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Missing Summer Storms...

      I grew up in the Midwest, Oklahoma City to be exact, right in the middle of tornado country, and there, spring always announced itself in the very same way.
     Late in the afternoons, the horizon would grow dark as blue-black clouds bellowed and burped their way across the sky. I have vivid memories of watching them roll in and knowing their power. My heart would beat faster as anticipation, fear, and awe all fought each other for their rightful place inside my spirit.
     There was a drill in my family and we knew what to do. When a storm began to make its way across the sky, we would head home and turn the TV on to Gary England. He was our local meteorologist, and he would be the one to tell us when to worry. He was the man who would change the, “Thunderstorm Watch” into a “Tornado Warning.”
     If Dad was home, and it seemed more often than not, he was, we would head for the garage where Dad turned on the radio, and our ritual began. My two sisters, my brother, and me, would gather our lawn chairs and line up side by side next to Dad just inside the open garage door. We would scoot to the very edge and lean out as the sky cracked open with lightning, and we would shriek as the gigantic booms of thunder vibrated forth from the darkening sky. We would compare lightening bolts and cracks of thunder, and on evenings when each one seeming brighter, closer, and more powerful than the one before it, we knew the storm was headed right for us.
     Sometimes, just when we thought the sky couldn’t possibly get any angrier, it would open up and explode with hail. Once, hailstones rained down the size of golf balls, and shocked, I stood holding my ears, mesmerized by the sight. I had never seen power like that, or heard a natural sound so loud. Other times, we watched funnel clouds dance down from the darkness looking for a place to land, then they would hop back up and disappear. But if the sirens sounded, and they often did, we had to go inside.
     I felt safe if Dad was home when this happened, but his expression and the glances he gave my mother, told me if he was worried. On these occasions, he gathered us kids into the bathtub, he and Mom on the floor beside us with a mattress from their bed as shelter.
     The worse tornado of my childhood, one of the bathtub times, took a neighbors roof completely off his house and sat it down on the roof of a house two streets over. No one was hurt, but when Dad came back from visiting them the next day he took us over there to see it and he showed me a vase of flowers on their kitchen table that never even tipped over.
     I remembering standing there and looking up from that table at nothing but blue sky, as I came to a new understanding about the power and awe of a God that had control of something like that.
     As I recall these things, and share this story, I can’t explain clearly, why I miss all this so much, but know that I do. I believe it is the power of God that draws me in, but I also see his glory in the lightning, hear it in the thunder, and smell it in the rain.
     And in our neighbors kitchen that had no roof yet held a vase of flowers untouched on the table, I felt God’s Glory.
    This, I know, is why I miss them.

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