As the prayers and the waters and the worries rise in Houston and the surrounding areas of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, I pull this from the archives to remind us–there’s no such thing as a small storm. Whether you’re treading water or standing dry, chances are you’ve wrung your hands and whispered pleas to heaven, some point in your life. So grab hands across the barriers people believe divide our country and let’s weather this storm together.
When the sky turned that eerie deep gray on Monday afternoon, I put my kids in the center of our house—the hall bath—and listened on the porch for the telltale sound. When the thunder seemed to rumble on long and mournful—too much like a train barreling straight down its tracks with no plans for stopping—I joined them and the lights flickered and their flashlights swayed. Then all was quiet again, and since nothing looked too out of the ordinary, I went back to making fried okra and checking homework.
Then my husband came in and told me all about the debris path he’d followed home from Cleveland. A few messages popped up in my Facebook feed about power outages and the state of Pitts Park. But until I took my kids to school the next morning and saw the downed trees and blanket of green leaves still lying all over yards and fields, I wasn’t sure that train had been an actual tornado.
After all, no warning ever popped up on my handy iPhone telling me my instincts for cover were correct. We hid out of fear and blind faith—my daddy told me when I was twelve that a tornado sounds like a train coming and if you hear it, you get someplace strong and safe without question.
He told us that, and then he and my mama shoved us into a corner of the house where the foundation was secure and covered us with pillows. While my baby sister wailed and my brother prayed, that train in cyclone form tore over two hundred trees from their roots on my parents 38-acres in Elbert County. Then it skipped over our two-story on the hill and landed right on the mobile home a quarter mile away. We emerged to a world with a sickly yellow glow I’ve never forgotten.
I’m thankful our little home place didn’t experience that glow on Monday night. But even a small storm of twisting wind can leave behind a headache of damage.
Which just goes to show, there’s really no such thing as a small storm. When you’re in the midst of life—of crisis and chaos and confusion—any storm, whether it downs trees or power lines or homes—can send you running for cover.
We’ve had a year of storms. One event after another has forced me to walk in the midst of fierce winds and question how in the world this fits with God’s will for our family. Just as our hurricane of my daughter’s illness leaves us flooded but recovering, we get whipped around by a small tornado of school enrollment and district lines.
The storms don’t really care about what is fair and who can handle more debris scattered across their road. Storms come and leave destruction and in the aftermath, all that matters is how you keep standing.
And who takes the other end of that downed limb to get it out of your way.
“No Such Thing as a Small Storm” Originally published in The Northeast Georgian, August 14, 2015