Thursday, November 24, 2016

Great Blessings

After an afternoon of banging on the piano, driving toy trucks through the kitchen, playing chase on limited-space window seats, the children have settled in front of the screen for an animated show. Calm has overcome chaos...until...the screen goes black and the emergency broadcast system blares in ...WARNING ALERT...extreme thunderstorm. Little heads pop up in wonder. My focus turns to the bank of windows showcasing the valley, the mountain range, the on-a-clear-day-you-can-see-forever view. Dark clouds loom beyond.

Earlier that day, the valley's roof was a clear blue sky. It was November 23, and that morning, Mom and I had taken off our coats on morning errands. A storm had been forecasted, but it was hard to imagine the perfect pre-Thanksgiving weather could turn cold. Wanting to take advantage of the last good weather, I made sure everyone was settled and happy before I laced up my running shoes and headed for the mountain trail. I quickened my pace as those dark clouds threatened my afternoon getaway. But I made it home dry, foolishly thinking the great weather would last.

The first lightening hits behind the distant mountains. The light flashes and rumbles and it looks like Mordor--middle earth controlled by Sauron, and the evil is brewing. Some of the family moves to the windows--we are mesmerized by the churning clouds, by the fearful strikes of light. I pull a little one up to the counter; he scoots close to the window and watches. FLASH! We ooh and ahh. We are spellbound. We wait. FLASH! I insist the lights are turned off, even though dinner is soon to be served.

The next little one stands at the counter and asks to be lifted. I pull him up and he sits still for the awaited spectacle of light. The littlest one has toddled over and I lift him too.

The dark house, the anticipation--he stands and pound on the window completely caught up in the excitement of--who knows? The whole sky turns white! Best of all, the storm moves closer. The wind becomes fierce and outside, the wicker couch flies across the deck. The chairs are next and slam into the railing clear on the other side. A rescue party rushes outside caught up in the delight of almost-danger. They take the glass off the table and move it to a protected corner. They salvage pillows carried over the rails--and then the hail, furiously thrown down by the wind, hits hard, shortly followed by pelting snow.

It is all so exciting! We startle at the first clear and clean strike of lightning! It lingers, and its vein is so peculiar, so fantastical. These are record-breaking lightning strikes. As we watch, a strike sends a firework into the sky; the valley goes dark, our house goes dark. Within seconds our lights come back to life, but just below, sections of the valley are without power. We feel humbled and grateful that ours are still working.

"How would we cook the turkey tomorrow without power? How would we keep the babies warm tonight?"

The storm seems to settle. The time between lightning strikes stretches. The little one still on the kitchen counter with me, wants more. He uses his sign language--striking his fists together to signify his want.

"Sebi, it looks like the storm is over."

How we enjoyed the storm!-- from the safety, from the warmth and protection of our home. Knowing this, directs my thoughts to all those people caught in the storm. My daughter pulls up a weather app that shows all the car accidents on 1-15 and that a short journey from point A to B has increased by 45 minutes. I almost feel guilty for the mysterious pleasure of the storm.

Perhaps, this is what makes Thanksgiving so poignant--that we gather around a table of abundance, fully aware that others may not have the same blessings. It forces us to pause and recognize the peace and love surrounding. It's what inspires us to let the grocery cashier tack on an extra $10 to our bill so we can help provide a meal for someone without. We are reminded of the bombs that still fall on Aleppo, that people still need homes, that jobs, food, and loved ones will always be great blessings not to be taken for granted. The realization comes only in part, because others go without, and because we too have been caught in a storm.