When the storm rolls in…

I was watching television with my youngest son yesterday when I heard a grumbling in the sky – indicating a storm was about to roll in. I quietly stood to my feet and made my way to the front porch to await the approaching weather and watch it as it drew near. At first, it appeared the storm was already passing by and that I was sitting too far south to get the experience I was expecting. The sky was a dark shade of grey to my north and I could see flashes of light toward the east. The clouds appeared to be moving in an eastward direction. When I saw this, I allowed my expectations to change. But I remained in my seat with the thought that I would enjoy the peacefulness of my surroundings. Then, I felt a cold steady wind. I looked up and saw that the clouds were, in fact, now heading my way. Within moments the bright shine from the sun had disappeared and the darkness had overtaken area surrounding me. Before I knew it, the heavens had opened up and a heavy rain began to pour from above. Lightning flashed seemingly only a short distance away before a crack of thunder sent rattling chills up my spine. I began to stand to my feet to re-enter the safety of the home, but before I could muster the strength to lift myself, I felt myself easing up and relaxing back into my chair as if I knew I had nothing to worry about after all. It wasn’t but a matter of minutes before the storm had rolled on and left the area allowing the sun to once again peak through the clouds and remind me that all is well on the other side of the storm. I must say: It felt good to ride out the storm. It truly was a beautiful process to be a part of.

I’m not sure exactly what has sparked my fascination with storms. Some people fear them, some chase them and some just sit and ride them out. The truth remains: Storms are scary. They carry a power with them that cannot be thwarted by man. Whether we fear them or not, they have the power to take us. This is quiet the humbling thought as I realize there is more to this world than me. I am only a small part of a much larger existence. Even though the storm left me a little unnerved, I couldn’t leave. I could only stay and watch as it revealed its power to me.

In life, storms come and storms go. There isn’t much more we can do than simply watch and hope for the best. It’s amazing how one moment in life we feel safe and it may look as if our location exceeds the reach of the storm, but then it turns, and in the next moment we are watching as it wreaks havoc on our very existence. This begs us to run and take cover. We want to hide and pray it away, but storms are a necessary reminder that we are small. We are powerless. Life is bigger than we are. It didn’t start with us and it will not end with us. It’s a beautiful process and all we can do is watch and wait while we ride out the storm.

The sky may be grumbling and growling in our lives. Flashes of light may be setting us on edge. A cool breeze may be blowing in while tree limbs begin to dance in the distance. Concerns may crop up in our minds: “Are our garden crops okay?” or “Will a tree fall on our house?”. Maybe we will want to run and hide from it all. I know I wanted to yesterday, but only for a moment. Then the storm passed and it was almost as quickly as it came. Suddenly, it was gone. I survived. I couldn’t control the storm. We can’t control the storm. It’s bigger than we are. But when it rolls in … Maybe we should just relax and ride it out. That way we don’t make any storms in our lives bigger than they already are.

 

In the Ashes of the fire…

I spent some time at Moonville Friday with the Zaleski Fire Department.  A fire had ignited in the woods near the area and while some departments put together efforts to contain the fire, others stood by and kept watch for other dangers.  It was already near dark when I arrived at the scene, and containment efforts were winding down.  I stood with some of the firefighters who were keeping watch on the road near the Moonville Tunnel, as we all waited for the latest updates on the conditions in the woods.

As we waited, I noticed something falling from the sky.  Further observation of the falling material revealed to me that I was standing in a shower of falling ash.  I could not see the fire from where I was standing, but the smoke, the burning smell and the ash that was falling caused me to realize I was probably closer to the fire than I had thought.  Suddenly I knew that if containment efforts fail, I could be in a dangerous place.

I didn’t doubt at any moment that the situation was being properly handled by the firefighters.  I didn’t fear that at any point I would need to scramble to quickly remove myself from the area.  I felt secure.  I was safe, and I didn’t feel the need to panic.  I wonder though, if the fire department hadn’t been on the scene if I would have felt the same way.  Would I have jumped into my car and get out of the woods as quickly as possible if I had been alone?  I am not sure what type of alternative outcome would have came if I wouldn’t have been near members of the fire department.  I am thankful for the people who sacrifice their time and effort to protect people like me and keep me safe.

I think about the way I felt in the woods Friday.  I wonder about my own life and the lives of those around me.  How do the people who depend on me feel when they are near me.  Do my kids watch the ashes fall and know they are safe because I am their father?  Does the burning smell cause my loved ones to fear where they stand or do they feel comforted because I am near?  When the smoke is thick and the only thing left to do is count on someone else for protection, am I the one people feel they can turn to?

My life feels like a fire sometimes.  It seems that there is always a fight to protect what little I have.  I think the people who are close to me can see the smoke.  They can smell the fire.  They watch the ashes fall when they are near me.  Though some run away for fear that the fire will grow, there are those who stand in a safe place.  They feel safe in spite of the proof of dangerous territory that surrounds them.  I want to end the fire that burns in my life.  I want to rise above the smoke clouds that roll off of my existance.  I’m not going down in flames, I’m emerging from the fire.  I am climbing out of a death trap that has held me bound for years.  If you watch the ashes fall, don’t fear the fire, just know I have taken another step into the clear.

In the future, I hope that my children feel safe because I show no signs of destruction, rather than because I carry them through it.  I want the best for my kids.  Even though we have marks to prove we have been through the fire, I hope they’ll carry on without fear of that fire.  If my success marks the success of my children, then I must succeed.  There are no other options.  The ash still falls, but the fire is behind me.