Thunder Itself

I was surprised to learn that summer doesn’t really begin until June 20. Isn’t that Halloween? With the weather heating up to hell-worthiness and the mosquitoes out for my children’s blood, I think summer really began this weekend. And with it came some fantastic thunderstorms.

If there is anything Thing One is more afraid of than Casa Manana, it is thunderstorms. When my mom came to stay with us last month while Gordon was out of town, I came home late to find her in bed with Drew, who was up on his knees peeking through his blinds at what might as well have been Chernobyl. Mom and I had to coax our limbs out of his sheets slowly, as though avoiding invisible laser motion sensors, in order to leave him without too much protest. Drew was docile, on the verge of sleep. The storm had been over for an hour, but after having suffered some form of post-traumatic stress, he was finally calm enough for us to slip away and take comfort in an Oreo. Or two.

This past Tuesday night, Gordon and I decided not to watch TV — which might signal the apocalypse – in order to read in bed. Mostly we were just too tired to go downstairs. I remember turning out the light at 10:32 and congratulating myself on being such a responsible adult who reads small print and gets the doctor-recommended amount of REM. About an hour later, when I was still folded up in my initial sleeping position (the first of countless, according to Gordon), a blinding flash woke me up. BOOM! Thunder too.

Oh boy. It was going to be a long night.

But it wasn’t. I was frozen. Still in my initial draft of sleep, waiting like an escaped inmate for the siren to sound, I listened. Nothing. Gordon was shifting on his side, too. I knew he was awake, he knew I was awake, and we were both trying to deny that either one of us was awake. He was listening just like I was. When would the cry ring out? The pre-adrenaline gathered like a pool of blood in my throat. I was bitterly giving myself a pep talk and bracing myself for the scenario ahead: how I would roll over the side of the bed, hobble across the hall, puncture the ball of my foot with a Lego, and, finally, collapse into Drew’s bed while his sniffles mingled with my coos. Roll, hobble, puncture, collapse. Roll, hobble, puncture, collapse. Got it?

BOOM. Another stroke of storm, another explosion from the giant shutter.

But only the quiet percussion of rain filled the lulls. No shrieks or cries or moans or pleading for mommy. For 14 minutes or so (but who was counting?), I listened to the rain and the thunder with a split personality: half of me in dread, half of me in soothed solace. To the same extent that Drew loathes thunder and lighting and rain, I love it and have always felt that it was like a spoken word, a sign to pay attention.

When it finally became safe to hope, I began to relish it wholeheartedly. I thought about how, at least for tonight, Drew had been allowed to sleep through his fears; how he wasn’t even aware of how much he had been spared, and how that was a beautiful definition of grace. I prayed for the strength to sleep through my own fears as well — not because I’ve shut myself away from reality, but because I’ve embraced a greater one. Not because my fears aren’t real, but because they’re not any more real than the God who allows other things, things like light, and love…and Oreos.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
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