Living in the city makes it difficult to see and feel an incoming thunderstorm. The dark clouds are visible but distance is hard to measure and the horizon is hazy. One of my favorite memories from childhood was sitting on the front porch steps and watching a thunderstorm come in. With my eye on the horizon I watched the storm clouds form. There was rumbling and changing cloud colors. It was striking to see the dark clouds on the horizon and the beautiful rich green of the Iowa countryside in one frame. It was beauty with an edge of danger.
The air was intense and immediate. I was small and just a spectator. There was nothing I needed to do but sit and watch. Anticipation was part of the fascination but I was patient. I wasn’t waiting for Santa Claus. It seemed there was so much to be seen in slow motion. Just before the rain began to fall, there was a change in the air like a sharp intake of breath. Would it be a bad storm? Bad was the tornado in the Wizard of Oz. All I needed to do was run inside the house and I would be safe. I knew what corner of the basement to run to in case of tornado! I had a plan, but usually I was on the porch when the rain and wind came. If Mom didn’t insist I come in I stayed on the porch until I was getting wet from the rain blowing onto the porch.
Grown up concerns about damage to crops and property were not on my radar. I never worried that hail might damage the crops or fields would be flooded. Just a few years ago I was looking out my patio door and watching the hail pummel my 2 tomato plants. I was fascinated by the hail but worried that my plants would be destroyed. Awe and worry in the same moment. I remember digging the hail stones out of the bed and freezing my fingers. 90 degrees and ice is falling from the sky. The plants survived and even thrived to produce a bumper crop of tomatoes. The farmers in the area were not as fortunate and crops looked like they had been shredded and never came back.
When I go to my AlAnon meetings I am reminded I am powerless over alcohol, people, places and things and I remember the thunderstorms in Iowa. I was powerless over the storms and I accepted that powerlessness easily. I am a grown up and acceptance does not come easily these days. I see and feel my body getting battered by age and I often want to fight the changes the years bring. What about watching and feeling the changes with curiosity and awe like I watched the storms come in? After the storm and the rain, the air was so clean and full of hope.