Faith, Stories Told

Storm damage

Jesus said to the Two Listeners:

Turn out all thoughts of doubt and of trouble. Never tolerate them for one second. Bar the windows and doors of your souls against them as you would bar your home against a thief who would steal in to take your treasures.

What greater treasures can you have than Peace and Rest and Joy? And these are all stolen from you by doubt and fear and despair.

Face each day with Love and Laughter. Face the storm.

Joy, Peace, Love, My great gifts. Follow Me to find all three. I want you to feel the thrill of protection and safety Now. Any soul can feel this in a harbor, but real joy and victory come to those alone who sense these when they ride a storm.

Say, “all is well.” Say it not as a vain repetition. Use it as you use a healing balm for cut or wound, until the poison is drawn out; then, until the sore is healed, then until the thrill of fresh life floods your being.

All is well.

A thunderstorm rolled through last Friday night. I love thunderstorms and often find them calming. This one calmed me until about midnight when the lightning started to strike and the power started to flicker. Then, within a two minute span, the power went out for good, one lighting strike sounded awfully close – pow! – and then one second later, something hit the house – thud! It came from my youngest son’s bedroom. He slept through it, so I went outside to see what happened. I found a large branch hanging off the roof over my son’s room. Here’s what it looked like in the morning light:

Somebody call my insurance agent!

Not only did it twist the gutter, it punctured the roof in two places. I also found two other large limbs down in the yard, another hanging by a thread to its tree thirty feet up, and another lying across a downed section of the chain-link fence.

My sons and I got to spend our Saturday cleaning up the mess as much as we could. We filled four lawn bags with the small branches that littered the yard. Trying to remember what my insurance deductible is, I climbed up on the roof, pulled the limb off, and tacked a tarp over the holes. We also made a run to Kroger for supplies to get us through until power could be restored, which ended up being Sunday evening. Goodness, did we wish we could take showers, even cold ones, but the well pump doesn’t work without electricity. But we made the best of it. I kept a decent attitude, and so my sons did, too.

I’m not dancing for joy over my punctured roof, mind you; this is going to cost me money and time away from work. But I’m surprised that I’ve taken this so much in stride. Where does it come from? I’ve done a lot of work on myself in the last five years, but this calm goes beyond that work. No, I have to credit God who reminds me that I’ve been in plenty of unwanted and difficult circumstances these past five years, and he’s brought me through fine every time.

Another storm is rolling through as I write this. Let it rain. All is well.

Update 8 June: It rained hard for five hours yesterday. I checked my crawl space this afternoon and it has a foot of water in it. Guess my sump pump doesn’t work. All is well, all is well, all is well…

Stories Told

Blizzard of ’78

Thirty years ago yesterday the TV weatherman warned of a coming blizzard. By afternoon thirty years ago today, I sat in school watching a wall of white through the window as the storm moved in. School let out early. I leaned hard against the wicked cold winds, stinging snow against my face, as I walked the one block home. The snow froze to my eyelashes and my nostrils; I could barely see and had to breathe through my mouth. Dad wasn’t home yet as the snow accumulated. He arrived very late and on foot, crusted in ice and snow, his car having become stuck somewhere down the street. He said he couldn’t even tell if he was on the road.

The next morning, the radio said, “South Bend is shut down. Schools everywhere are closed.” But the snow wasn’t done falling. When it was stopped sometime the next day, 36 inches had fallen and had drifted as high as 10 feet. It was still dangerously cold outside.

Mom inventoried food while Dad tried to lift the garage door open. He did, with considerable effort, to reveal a wall of snow that blocked the door but for a few inches at the top. Dad issued shovels to my brother and I and we started shoveling snow into the garage. The snow was dense and heavy, tiring to lift. We worked in 20-minute shifts with long rests to get warm, and eventually dug a ramp into the dense snow. Later we walked up that ramp and out onto the snow, dragging our Flexible Flyers behind us, to buy food at a nearby grocery that had opened somehow.

South Bend was paralyzed. People were stuck wherever they were when the storm hit. The same faces were on TV and voices were on the radio for days. Nurses and doctors worked unintended marathon shifts treating whoever could come in, which was good for my mother’s friend who went into labor during the storm and was taken to the hospital by snowmobile. But at home the days dragged by with little to do but keep working on shoveling the driveway. A band of my braces broke; even though Dad cut the wire and packed it with wax, it still cut, and I suffered with it.

The city slowly began to clear the snow from the streets, making 10-foot piles at the curbs. People started to drive, though the streets felt like tunnels. The broadcasters and doctors got to go home. Dad found his car two blocks north in somebody’s front yard, dug it out, and brought it home. We started clearing our sidewalks. Schools opened on a limited schedule two weeks after the storm. Dad was able to go back to work. I made it to the orthodontist.

The city was starting to function again, and so our normal lives were restored slowly in the coming weeks. Eventually, the mountains of snow melted enough that drivers could see what was around each corner. Schools returned to normal schedules. City services resumed. And one day the only remnants of the storm were tall snow piles in shopping-center parking lots. Even those eventually melted, but not until at least late April.

Thirty years later, I still dislike snow.