when the storm comes

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

October 30, 2012

The moon drops into the west like a giant grapefruit this morning, while the storm’s eye focuses on the eastern coastline.

My dad calls to remind me that this hurricane carries my name, and I’m already unsettled enough about that. I cringe every time I hear “my” name.

The wind gusts bitter, so I don a jacket and loop a scarf around my neck when I step out to run an errand. I fill my car with gas and pray for those whose lives will be blown upside down. The ocean, they say, will breach its boundaries and churn in the streets. Cities will go dark, and folks will be powerless.

Hurricane Sandy has already killed.

In Michigan, we’re under a wind advisory. I pass two power trucks, one with basket high, and limbs fall. I wonder if this was a scheduled trim or one undertaken in advance of and in response to reports of possible outages.

Later my daughter texts me. “The sky is so pretty.”

And it is. The gray’s now edged with a 360-degree rim of pink, and the western sky seeps gold. They’ve started to harvest the corn, and a doe bounds through the field.

But the eye has made landfall.

When I go to town to meet my husband for supper, the wind’s gusting harder. But a football game’s in progress under lights. Three teens talk on the sidewalk. And once inside the Eaton Place (where leaves have blown halfway down the entry hall), we talk with church friends about last night’s Trunk-or-Treat and choir and chocolate-eating dogs. I fill my plate from the salad bar, and D orders soup and sandwich. Afterwards, the car door slams against my leg.

When I get home, grateful for warmth and light, I continue to watch the hurricane images swirl on TV. The yellow travels across Michigan. They’re calling it Monster Storm Sandy now, 900 miles wide, “thrashing anything in her way.”

Five in New York are confirmed dead at this point. A crane dangles from a high-rise. Mayor Bloomberg tells his city, “Shelter in place. Stay where you are.”

And I think we are never powerless in a storm as long as we shelter in place. As long as we stay where we are.

But the wind continues to blow, trees crack, and tunnels flood. And when morning comes, the light will reveal what was hidden in the dark.

My friend, Nancy, who’s waiting for the storm to pass, posts her current Facebook status: “Just sitting in the dark, drinking wine and listening to my son make music in a minor key.”

He battles the storm with a song.

Nancy goes on, “Sometimes the line between beauty and pain is so very thin.”

The power of this stuns me. And I wonder if we could even see beauty without pain.

I slip into my bathrobe, pour a cup of tea, and curl up in my chair to watch and pray.

 

19 Comments

  1. Patricia W Hunter

    My heart and prayers are with so many this morning as the winds continue to howl and many wake to devastation. May the Lord bring them hope and strength and healing.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Amen, my friend. I’m watching this huge out-of-control fire in Queens right now . . .

      Reply
      • Patricia W Hunter

        Me, too. So sad. My heart is with so many people there. Our son went to Kings Point, where it’s been reported that they’ve had 13 feet of water, we stayed in Queens on a recent trip to NYC, and our niece Elissa lives in Brooklyn. We are anxious to hear from her.

        Reply
        • Sandra Heska King

          It feels even more personal when you’ve been there. We lived in New Jersey for a couple of years. My husband works for New York Life (which was closed yesterday), so we know many there–in addition to all our online friends. Lifting a prayer for Elissa.

          Reply
  2. SimplyDarlene

    It’s amazing how informed and connected we are these days, compared to say 15 years, ago when we would have had to wait for the morning paper/new shows to see what had happened back east. I wonder how many folks realize we’ve also got a high speed connection to God?

    Thanks for this very well-written piece. There’s comfort in it. For sure.

    Blessings.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      It puts us right in the storm together–in real time. And that high-speed connection–no power can cut it.

      Reply
  3. cherylsmith

    Nancy’s line line about beauty and pain struck me too.

    His is the best place to weather the storm, always, isn’t it?

    And finally, it’s funny. I never once thought of you as a hurricane, or the other way around. 🙂

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I don’t know how anybody weathers a storm without staying in Him.

      And my Dad could tell you stories…

      Reply
  4. pastordt

    Absolutely gorgeous, Sandy. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Thanks, Diana. I kept thinking how I’m going about my business while other lives are turned topsy-turvy…how I might complain about the wind and the cold, but how those were just minor conveniences, how Dennis was eating hot soup while others might not anything hot for awhile–if anything.

      Reply
  5. David Rupert

    Beautiful reflection of all of us… who pray

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Thank you, David. We might feel helpless in the face of distant disaster, but we’ve got access to power, right?

      Reply
  6. Laura Boggess

    Goose-bumps (God-bumps, Jennifer would say :)). Praying with you. Lovely.

    Reply
  7. Vicky

    This makes me think of the Twila Paris song with my favorite line “sometimes he calms the storm, sometimes he calms the child”.. I pray he will calm both this evening.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I love that song! And yes, praying with you. The sights and stories are overwhelming.

      Reply
  8. Amy L. Sullivan

    Yes! The moon does look like a giant grapefruit dropping! Sandra, you have such beauty in your words. I agree with Nancy. Sometimes that line between beauty and pain is very small.

    Reply

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when the storm comes

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 2 min
19