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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thunderstorms, my Dad, and a vase of flowers on a kitchen table...

      I grew up in tornado country and Spring always announced itself with a great and stormy sky. 
     The horizon would grow dark as blue-black clouds rolled and tumbled and filled the sky.  I was well aware of their power as my heart beat faster.
      Anticipation, fear, and awe took turns inside my spirit playing follow the leader. 
    We were taught what to do. Mom would meet us at the door if the storms found us outside, and then we sat in the drn on the floor, watched, Gary England, and waited for Dad.
     We have meteorologists in Oklahoma, and he was ours. He told us what we needed to know about the impending storm and I still remember the comfort of his voice. I trusted him.
    If Mr. England changed the symbol from thunderstorm watch to tornado warning  before Dad arrived home, Mom would take us to the bathroom and I'd get scared. 
    But the moment Dad came through the door my fear went away.   He would change his clothes and we'd go to the garage where Dad would snap on the radio, open the garage doors, and line up the lawn chairs side by side.  
    As long as the storm lasted the five of us would sit like that. Dad and his kids. We watched clouds darken and shift.  I'd scoot to the very edge of my chair and gasp as flashes of lightning shot across the sky. I'd hold my ears as gigantic booms of thunder vibrated my bones. 
    At times the the sky grew so dark that I held my breath and just when I thought I couldn't stand it anymore, the sky would  break open and pour down buckets full of rain. 
    The hail made my sisters scream but my brother ran into it like a superhero proud to show us the red whelps he brought back inside with him.    
    I was transfixed watching our green grass turn into a glassy white blanket.  
     Dad put us inside the bathtub once and when I saw the look between my parents I knew the tornado was coming. Dad left for a minute and came back with a mattress. He told Mom to get in with us and then he held the mattress over our heads. 
     There were a few moments when the sound of the wind covered the sound of Mother singing. In the stillness I thought it was over. It wasn't. 
     The wind came back, and then, Dad put the mattress down. 
     He told Mom to keep us there until he came back. 
     When all was clear Dad said, "I thought I'd drive around and see what the tornado did. Anyone want to come with me?"
      I did.
     I don't know how far we drove, but when Dad parked we both got out. A family was wandering outside on a lawn down a street and their house had no roof.  "Look," Dad said as he pointed. "It's over there."
     It was balancing on top of a house down the street. 
     The family without the roof was letting people go inside to see. Dad told me they were in shock, but I had to ask him after what shock was. 
     Inside the house, the TV was on but it didn't have a picture. Dad was talking to people about couch cushions and books on a shelf.  
     I wandered into the kitchen. 
    On a table was a vase of red flowers. I stared while the people around me talked about them. 
    They just sat upright on the peoples kitchen table in the water in the pretty vase.   
     I looked up and saw the sky.
     On the drive home, Dad told me that tornadoes had strange power.  He told me when he was a boy he saw a rake pushed through a telephone pole once after storm and that a neighbor's cow had been found walking in a field over a mile away after another one. 
     Something changed in me that day.  I did not understand the things I saw and heard. But as I stared at the flowers in the kitchen with no roof  I knew God knew everything I did not and after that I saw God's glory in the lightning. 
     I smelled it in the rain and I heard it in the thunder.  
    I know it is present now even a midst the destruction of the current seasons storms so I pray for the people who lives were forever changed by them. But, as I remember the red flowers on the table in a kitchen with no roof I know that new life and redemption comes. 
    May they see your goodness, Lord, and may they know your great love. 
     I pray the words of this Third Day song for their lives...
     "Show them your glory. Send down the heavens, they want to see your face. Show them your glory. Majesty shines about you they can't go on without you Lord."