Thunderstorms. Most of us would admit that there is something wonderful about them, something that grips us no matter how many times we’ve experienced them. They are powerful and unstoppable, dominantly moving over the landscape with nothing to impede their destination. Unpredictable, wild, fearsome. They deliver sounds of ground-shaking, crackling thunder that makes our hearts jump, especially when it wakes us late in the night. They make us gasp by hurling bolts of lightning toward the ground that illuminate the entire sky and make us say “whoa!” as our eyes grow large. Sometimes they are soothing, providing great rains that bring a relaxing presence upon the mind and body. Other times, they deliver a light rain that produces tapping sounds on the roof and carries us into reflection and deep sleep.
Storms and rain showers shaped me as a child. I can remember being thrilled as a young boy when thunderstorms would roll through the sky above our house in central Wisconsin. The distant thunder and encroaching power moved me. Many nights I drifted into other realms while hearing the sounds they produced, and during bad storms, our mother would try as best she could to hurry us into the basement (especially if tornados were on the loose), though I’d remain upstairs or outside as long as I could.
This past summer I was awakened late one night by a great crack of thunder that may have been the loudest I ever heard. I shot up from my pillow, listening to the sound of the wind blowing forcefully through the trees and the rumbling thunder. I could stand it no longer. I slid out of bed and walked out to the porch, where I was met by an immensely dark, black sky—dark until streaks of lightning flashed above, lighting up everything in view. The wind began to blow so violently that I wondered if a tornado was approaching, and the trees were being tossed around like buoys on a lake, while leaves and debris from the forest swirled in the air above. A few times I was tempted to retreat into the safety of the house, but I just couldn’t. I was captivated. Admittedly, prior to going to bed I had felt spiritually dry, but while standing under that storm, I found myself praying aloud to the God of heaven and earth, shouting out prayers for the safety of the kids at the nearby summer camp, along with various other requests that were on my heart, while thanking him for the display of his power.
The next morning I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the porch, reveling in the fresh smells and cooler temperatures that were left in the aftermath of the storm. And during breakfast at the camp shortly after, the first question out of everyone’s mouth was, “Did you hear that crack of thunder?”
Storms continue to move me as an adult, though now I can stay outside as long as I want to watch these wonders. And I understand that there are different kinds of storms that we all must pass through—storms of life.