Monday, April 15, 2013

Storms

It had been a very warm day.  We sat down to a dinner of fried chicken, collards, white beans and cornbread.  The breeze through the windows suddenly picked up in intensity, enough so that my grandfather took notice.  He slowly lowered his fork and in a slow southern drawl said, "Kids. Get to the storm shelter.  Now."  Without hesitation, we sprinted toward the shelter across the road.  Granddaddy stood outside, surveying the skies with a stoic calm and an I-dare-you attitude.  He never feared storms.  Sometimes I think they actually feared him.

This was at a time when warning systems were not in place for tornadoes or other severe weather.  Granddaddy knew the weather patterns.  He could always tell when rain was coming.  Said he could smell it in the air and feel it in his bones.  "Wind is like a woman," he told me.  "When it gets angry, all hell breaks loose."  His simple wisdom spoke volumes.  Not long after, an F5 touched down and devastated the town in which I was born.  Warning systems were finally put into place.

The weather forecast today is sunny and warm.  It's been 39 years since that tornado whipped its fury on an unsuspecting town.  And severe storms are expected later this week.  Spring is here and so is the turbulence that comes with it here in the South.  The threat of severe weather can be quite unsettling for some.  For others, it is what it is.  For some, storms bring excitement as they watch the skies in anticipation.  Some even chase storms.  Whatever the case, storms affect people in different ways.

Our perspective about storms is akin to our perspectives about life.  Life is either mystical, magical, powerful and full of meaning, or it is not worth getting up for in the morning.  Life is either something totally out of our control, or it is something we co-create with the universe's energies and laws.

The storm has long been a metaphor for the struggles we face in life. They will come, and they will go. Some storms will be large and fierce, and some will be quiet and gentle. They can be life-threatening, yet life-quenching. They can be destructive, yet cleansing. Storms bring us face to face with who we are, or who we aren't. Our struggles may seem destructive and life-threatening at the time, but as we weather them, we come out stronger, wiser, renewed, and happy to be alive.  Our personal storm may rage for a night, but we can take comfort in knowing that it too shall pass.

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