Friday, March 22, 2013

Into the Storm

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do.  As of Monday night, I am officially a National Weather Service Storm Spotter.  (I capitalized my new title, and made it a title, to make it sound more official than it really is.  But it's still awesome.)

There's just something about a storm.

One Memorial Day weekend, I was walking through the woods at a family get-together when lightning from a still-far-off storm struck a tree about 70 feet in front of me.  The incredible blend of yellows, orange, and white with that quick afterflash tinged red is burned into my eyes; what a sight!  And what incredible power when just last year, I was lying in bed and felt shockwaves through my whole body just before I heard the crash of lightning hitting something.  Something close.

One morning in April a few years ago, the earth quaked and I wondered how it did that.  I mean, my science mind knows, but have you thought about it?  That the earth could quake?  God says so often that it does...and that it will.  And my niece panicked when I walked outside in a hailstorm to clear the storm drains because nobody on this streets wants a repeat of the flood of 2008, which would have been cooler only if it hadn't taken my whole basement.

I have stared at a green sky and watched the clouds start to twirl, then cut a path toward the ground only to pull back up at the last instant.  And in 2002 when a series of tornadoes tore through the area, I convinced my teachers to let me stand at the door with them and watch.  If they hadn't agreed, I think I would have cried.

Because the last place I want to be in a storm is inside.

(Kids, don't try this at home.)

Storms amaze me; they are just so awesome and when you dive down into the science and figure out how a storm works, it takes the scary out of it and just makes it incredible.  This breathtaking show that the world is putting on from something so simple as a change in the winds.

That's pretty much all it is - a shifting of the winds, a clashing of fronts, a heaviness in the clouds that can only be relieved by the rain.  I try not to let my mind wrap too hard around it because if I break it into pieces, I think I'd miss the majesty of it, but at its heart, this is the storm.

So I wonder why it's so easy to seek shelter from a storm of the heart.  It's easy to run and hide, to pull inside and duck for cover and wait until these winds pass.  I've spent so much of my life on storm-tossed seas, hiding in the hull of a boat and feeling the waves but being unwilling to watch them.  I've spent so much of my life with my head between my knees and my hands over my head and my eyes closed because too many days, the storms have seemed too much.  And then it really thunders, and I run outside to watch the changing of the winds.

Storms of the heart are no more than the ones out the window.  They are a shifting of the winds, a clashing of fronts, a heaviness that can only be relieved by the rain.  They are the moments when something needs to change, and it's about to.  They are the moments when we run up against ourselves and have to war it out.  They are the moments when something inside us needs poured out or washed off or maybe both.  And the only way to do it is in the storm.

I'm learning the grace of walking into my storms, not for the adventure or the thrill or even the National Weather Service, but because there's something about a good storm.  And because I've learned the hard way that honestly?  The last place I want to be in a storm is inside.  Trapped in my own heart.  Trapped in the things I'm afraid might change, the things I'm afraid might blow away or blow up or wash over.  Trapped in the things that seem steady...but inside, I cannot see the wind.

Outside, I am shaped by it.  I am changed by it.  I am blessed by it.  And I am inspired by it.

It's simply amazing.

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