When you live in the middle part of the country, it is understood that you will face storms; big ones, little ones, snowstorms, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Tornadoes! Oh yes, springtime means tornadoes. Saturday evening, just north of where I live about an hour's drive, a big one hit. An F3 tornado with winds clocked at around 150 miles per hour, hit a town of about 1500 people. More than sixty percent of the homes in the community have been damaged and around thirty percent of them destroyed. At one point the tornado was more than a half a mile wide. This is life in the plains region of the United States. We grow up with it. We know that weather like this is always a possibility. Just like folks who live in California are knowledgeable about earthquakes, we know all about tornadoes.
You can feel when a storm is coming. The air is heavy. It is warm, usually very warm, and suddenly you can feel a coolness in the breeze. Clouds begin to build and you can actually watch them grow taller and taller as the storm builds first in the clouds. The sky turns dark and then a funny greenish color. Everything gets very still. If you look closely, the animals are all hidden and quiet. You know you'd better keep an eye to the sky. Most homes in this part of the country have basements. We use them to store things, some of us live in at least part of our basements, but we all have a place in the basement where we know to go when the sirens sound.
Now, if you're like my family, you only go to that place when the tornado is on a direct path with you. Some people say we're crazy, but we just never went to the basement much. We tend to stand on the porch or out in the yard or driveway, watching. We have watched many storms blow around us. We've watched funnels drop down and pull back up into the clouds. I'm not saying this is a smart thing to do; of course, it is not. I just never liked going to the basement. My dad always stayed upstairs to watch and I wanted to be with him, so my mom would go to the basement and the rest of us would stand on the porch (a few steps from the basement door) and watch. I can only remember a couple of times in my son's life when I was worried enough to either take him to the basement or to have him get shoes on and get ready to go. I didn't want him to be afraid of the storm. I wanted him to be knowledgeable about the storm and to know what to do in emergencies. I wanted him to NOT be afraid.
Fortunately, no one was physically injured or killed in the storm on Saturday. There will be a long period of emotional healing for most members of that community, but, because the alarms were sounded in plenty of time, no one was physically hurt. Thank God for that!
There are other storms that come into our lives. I am new to a community here in southeast Nebraska and I can see a storm brewing. In the not-too-distant future, two 'fronts' are going to collide and there is the potential of great damage and destruction. Just like watching those clouds building taller and taller, I am watching as one front builds to the point that it will burst upon the other. Lives will be changed when this happens. Just like the people in the aftermath of the tornado, the people left in the fallout from this storm will have months and months, if not years of 'damage' to repair.
So what is there for me to do? I am new to this community. I have made many new friends here and I don't want to see any one of them get hurt, and yet I know it will happen. I could go to my 'basement' and wait for the all clear. It would mean that I would not possibly be damaged by anything that might happen; or would it? That's never really been a good choice for me. But, just like those clouds in the sky, there is very little that I can do except watch. This all started long before I came on the scene and these people must do what is in their hearts to do, good or bad.
Why is it that when we are in the middle of these storms of life, we tend to say "All I can do is pray"? Isn't that the most powerful thing anyone can do? I know that I must have been placed here at this point in time for a reason. It is not the first time that I've been dropped into the middle of a situation like this and it probably won't be the last. God seems to think I have skills and/or talents in this area, because He keeps putting me here. The thing is, I never know what I'm supposed to do....except pray and listen. That lesson I have learned well over the years.
If I am just still and wait, God will show me what I am to do to help these people. 'Building bridges' keeps running through my mind. I'm not sure how to do that, but I know that's what I'm here to do. I guess, at this point, I'll just wait for further instructions. Besides, 'all I can do is pray.' Pray for the people who's lives were so damaged by the tornado and pray for the people who are in the midst of their own storm. Pray for all of us.