Standing in the Storm

I awoke before the alarm—not an uncommon or surprising occurrence. I headed toward the kitchen to see if the coffee was perking yet; it’s on a timer so that it can be ready when I am. The wind was surprising this morning. It was still quite dark out, but I could hear the sounds of wind rushing through the trees. Storms that come in the night usually strike us differently than those we get to watch develop and move. A thunderstorm in the summer might be a while in arriving, and you can often see it growing. But storms that form after bedtime seem to surprise us. And this was quite the squall. The wind was more fierce than I have heard it for weeks. Trees were whipping this way and that. I could hear twigs hitting the roof. It had my attention.

I was greeted by our cat. Kenya likes some attention first thing in the morning and she typically greets me with plaintive pleas for some petting. Or it may be that she was wanting comfort. She was on high alert. Her ears were turning this way and that trying to detect where the latest sound was coming from. Her eyes were looking at various corners of the room seeking the source. She was feeling a sense of threat. She did not know what it was or from what corner it was coming, but she knew something was up.

Then there was the sound of scratching—loud scratching—as if some enormous beast was clawing at the house. It was eerie and unfamiliar. Now Kenya and I both were looking around to try and figure this out.

Then the sound of screeching—tree rubbing on tree. Then a loud snap. Then a thud or two on the roof. More scratching. Kenya made a beeline for the basement and safer quarters. I sat in my chair listening. I now knew that a tree was breaking down and falling on the house. I could tell that it was on the west side. I had no idea what kind of damage was being done.

The noise now woke others. It is startling to be pulled from sleep by a loud thump.  Laura came out alarmed, calling my name and looking to see if I was okay. She thought perhaps I had fallen or was injured in some way. I told her that we had a tree that had fallen on the house.

I got a coat and a flashlight to go out and inspect the damage. There was a large limb, probably about 8” in diameter, laying in the yard. A tall pine tree was leaning against a poplar that kept it from falling all the way into the building. I was surveying the matter when I heard more scratching and cracking above my head. I decided that we had dodged much worse damage and retreated to the calm and warmth of the house.

It’s strange to be in a building when it is hit by a tree. The sound of foreign objects striking your house is not one you hear very often, if at all. Like the cat, I was a bit shaken by it.

My mind went to Jesus talking about building houses on sound foundations. There are those that are thrown up with little regard for what’s underneath. They will not survive the storms that come their way. I would not want to be in them when the storm hits. But there are those who are anchored on something stronger, something more firm than their structure. These are the ones against which the winds will blow and the storms will rise, but they will not fall.

There is a certain amount of structure and strength we build into our lives. We may be anxious and worried about what’s coming our way, or we may be anchored and confident. We cannot stop the storms that are coming, but we can build in such a way that we are prepared for the threats that are heading towards us. How we put our houses and our lives together can be a source of confidence.

In the light of day I could see that we had avoided something that could have been worse. That larger tree might have missed the other that was now holding it up and away from our house. Those branches could have taken out windows or gutters. A house that was not solid and encased in bricks might have sustained more damage.

I was thankful that this house is solid. This experience was fleeting. This moment was not the last for the house, or for me, or for our poor cat! The storm has passed now. The winds are dying down some. The skies are clearing. The cat is sleeping. I am resting in the awareness that there are structures in my life that keep me safe and supported so that I can
stand when the storms come my way. I hope you have something like that as well, both within you and to surround you.

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