Friday, May 13, 2011

Hunker Down, Tornado Town

When Nora and I left York last night around 7:30, all of us thought it was strange that some of the clouds were moving in the opposite direction to the storm-- like those few low-lying clouds had forgotten something back east and would just run quick-like to get it while the other clouds continued west.  In the car, I turned on the radio and the two guys who usually banter through the local storms were running outside and coming back in panting--"those clouds.  Folks, something is kind of strange with those clouds right now.  They're moving in really strange directions right now.  You know, if you have to drive somewhere tonight, I'd say don't."

So, I do what most people do:  I drive faster and start eyeballing the size of the culverts in the area just in case I need to put Nora in one on the way home.  I wasn't really worried, actually.   We were headed away from the storm.  Until:  "There's another front moving in from the east, so be on the look-out for another tornado warning."

So, we make it home, I check the local news and satisfied that we're okay, Nora and I put on pajamas, brush teeth and dig into our bedtime stories.  The wind was picking up outside, but the weather radio hadn't gone off, so I continued reading about the hungry caterpillar.

Animals have instinct.  Moms have weather radios and watchful, weather-predicting friends who text when tornados are overhead.  "And then he had one, nice green leaf and..."

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPP.  I grab Nora.  I grab my cell phone.  It beeps, too:  "You need to be in a basement right now!"  Nora grabs one of the books we'd been reading, her pacifier (PHEW!) and I run us both downstairs.  I turn on the radio to hear:  "the hook is right over Tamora between Tamora and Goehner.   A tornado sighting."  That's above our heads.  That's where we live.  I survey the room and settle for the very center next to the supporting wall huddled next to a bass amp and the bed frame and I cover us with a mattress and Nora with my body.  I can hear the wind coming down behind us through the vent that leads from the basement to the roof, a low rumble.  And I'm shaking.  I don't want to scare Nora.  She's doing fine actually.  In fact, she seems to be enjoying the tent and cuddle time.  According to the same two guys who narrated our drive home, we have another 20 minutes until we can move.  And they're telling all of us in Tamora to seek shelter immediately.

There's not much else we can do but wait.  I've noticed that a lot of waiting is necessary in times of trouble.  You can't change the situation, but you can decide how you'll feel while you wait it out until something else happens to take the problem's place.  In some ways, it's the waiting part that takes on the focus--not so much the problem.  So I'm focussing on the small amount of time we need to live through, and I'm praying, too.  But it's funny what I'm praying--I'm praying "strong little house made of brick built on the rock stand sturdy thank you for the friends who are here with us now help me God to lead her peaceful as we pass or don't pass through this storm strong little brick house built on the rock."  My arms are around Nora's curled body and her arms are around a book.  I look down.  She's holding her Bible.  And the shape we're making here is the shape I imagine our lives being, both of us curled and protected by what we hold inside our arms--not by that which surrounds us.

"Thank you for bringing this with you, Nora."
"Do you have something in your voice, Mommy?  Do you need to cough?"
"No, I'm okay, Nora."
"Maybe we should just read this while we wait."
Me, speechless and reminded that age has nothing to do with the deep, knowing Spirit that spoke to Nora last night.

So we read, and the time passes and finally we hear: "the storm appears to be breaking up..."


  1. Wow. I didn't get the story when we were together today and I am amazed how life seems to go back to normal and there's preschool and hot dogs after a night of huddling in a basement. My beer is in the other room, but when I get it I'm toasting, "To the strongest weak women I've ever met!"

  2. Some days, it's all about what we decide to read while we wait, isn't it? Glad you're safe!

  3. Glad you're both safe :) Next time I need a good Book to read...

  4. This is amazing. I love it. It is so terrifying to know a tornado is heading in your direction, but I can't imagine knowing it is already there. Love, love, love you sister. :)

  5. "Protected by what we hold inside our arms--not by that which surrounds us." He who is IN us is greater than he who is in the world--outside of us. Yes. The One who calmed the storm calms our spirits from within.

    Thankful for your safety. Joshua had a scary night that night too. Love you guys.