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“Is that thunder I’m hearing,” I asked my friend and former colleague Sarah. We were sitting across from one another in a booth at the local seafood restaurant near Sarah’s house in Maryland and eating our usual, broiled crab cakes. I turned around to look out the restaurant’s storefront windows.

“Yes thunder,” Sarah said, “I’ve been watching those clouds over your shoulder. Let me check for alerts.” She took out her phone. “Flash flood warning, I’m not surprised. We’ve had so much rain this summer, almost every day.”

After dessert, we drove back to Sarah’s house in gentle, windshield-wiper rain. We’d already covered important “this world” topics—family first then work stories. Now, as we settled in her family room and the sky darkened, our conversation entered the mystery of faith.

The rain intensified as the storm rumbled up the Chesapeake Bay to the east. Sarah zipped around the house, closing windows. “While I’m up and we still have power, I’ll make some tea,” she said.

The teakettle whistled along with the gusts of wind. Suddenly, as we were sipping our tea, thunder and lightning struck almost simultaneously, sizzling and clapping close then striking again. The electricity held, though Sarah had candles lit already.

Then from outside, we heard a snap followed by a series of cracks. “Sounds like a tree going down,” Sarah said.

“I hope not on my truck.”

“I don’t think so. It sounded like it came from the other direction.”

“Ah, that would be me, always worrying in the wrong direction about me and mine.”

I explained that every morning during my prayer and journaling time, I praise God for the day then make my confession. “You know what it always comes down to? Addiction. I’m addicted to me.”

Sarah laughed. “I think we all are.”

“I can focus on God for short periods of time, sometimes longer when I’m working with others. But it’s hard to hold it together in darkness; it’s hard to wait out storms; it’s hard to know how to proceed. That’s why I now call my morning God time, ‘Wait.’”

 

SarahYardAug2017The next morning, Sarah’s rain-soaked front yard glistened in the rising sun. My truck parked down the driveway was unscathed. In fact, the storm had washed it clean.

As I drove into Baltimore to have breakfast with a former neighbor, I noticed downed branches riding on power lines. Near the intersection on Dulaney Valley Road at Timonium, the traffic slowed. The signal was out.

Likely there were other “me” addicts at that intersection besides me. But at least for that moment, all of us held it together in the traffic light’s darkness. All of us waited—probably in spite of ourselves—then proceeded.

When did you hold it together in spite of yourself?

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