Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wall Clouds

I was raised in Tornado Alley. I have vivid memories of being a very young child, sitting in a hallway, bathroom, or closet (depending on where we lived), with a radio giving weather updates, the beeping of the national weather service coming out of the small radio and the deep voiced warning, a flashlight in hand, and blankets. Our family hovered together, listening, waiting, until Dad gave the OK to go back to life as usual. I have seen trees whipped to the side in unnatural ways, wall clouds, green and orange skies, and even dust devils that mimicked tornadoes—albeit miniature versions. I don’t fear the looming threat of tornadoes. It’s a way of life here, and when the season hits, you simply brace for it. The aftermath of tornados is always shocking no matter how long you’ve lived here. Trees uprooted, homes missing, cars squashed, and yet, some things completely untouched.

Life is full of tornadoes. How quickly they come in—sometimes we sense it in the air with the thickness of the humidity, the off-color skies, and the eeriness. Sometimes, they come without warning.

I can survive. If I lose everything, I can continue. My family has lost nearly everything before to circumstance. My friends have had homes burn to the ground. I know that life does continue. And so I don’t fear the doom. I know each day, each event, it is merely a blip in the radar of life. So much happens before and after major events, that they only define you as much as you allow them to.

The winds of change have been blowing. Not just in the air in tornado alley, but in my life. I look around every now and then and marvel at the difference a year can make, a month can make, and sometimes even a few hours can make. We touch the lives of everyone around us in some way. And our character becomes apparent to all around us, eventually.

I am thankful for the foundation my parents gave me. I am not afraid of change. I am not easily shaken by it. I have learned when it’s time to heed the warnings, hunker down, and hold on tight. But I’ve also learned there is a time to leave the bunkers and bask in the beauty of life, and not hold onto the drama of the bunker and carry it with me everywhere. I know some people who hang onto the drama of impending doom, and they let it define them and their actions. They are too afraid to face life. And over time, they attract doom. They attract doomsday followers. They create their own hell.

And so, I am thankful for the magnitude of life, of God. I am thankful for the strength to face life head on, and not cower from it. I am thankful for such grounded parents who made sure I was a pillar and not a sapling that easily bends. I am thankful.

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