Where I’m from, New England, we have our share of weather. But it’s the kind of weather you can outwit, outrun, or out-wait.
We get hurricanes and blizzards, mostly. They are spotted early, they move slow, and by the time they lumber over your house you can usually sit by the woodstove and just worry about the shutters blowing off and that’s about it. Though hurricanes are certainly deadly, by the time they reach northern New England, they rarely present the imminent danger that they do when they first form down south.
Now, a Nor-easter was much more common than the occasional hurricane and blizzard and they are not storms to sneeze at, but to prepare you just stopped at the store on the way home to buy bread and milk, commiserate with the other people in line, and remember to put the snow shovel where you can find it later. That, and a pile of movies and books got you through.
Tornadoes are another matter entirely. I don’t like this type of storm. I can’t get used to them. I am scared to death of them. They are sneaky, winding up when you least expect it, and worst of all there’s no storm track. They just pop up! Sometimes more than one snake across the ground! At the same time! Tornadoes can be anywhere, go anywhere, and are completely random! Boy, I don’t like this situation one bit.
We’ve had a spate of tornado activity in Madison County recently. The one in May came through overnight. Now there’s a stomach-turning experience if there ever was one. Laying flat on the bed, my eyes as big as saucers, waiting for that train sound to come sweep me away to Kansas. The rain was pelting the windows and rattling the apartment, and which, unfortunately is on the second floor and with no interior rooms. At 5 a.m. I couldn’t take it any more, I wanted safer shelter. All I could think of was my church.
Meadow Baptist Church is at the end of my driveway on the adjacent property. The brick church has a downstairs, not underground but behind a small hill, and has a small interior room. I called my pastor, whose wife was up and about and answered on the first ring. She passed the message and he went across the parking lot in the rain to open the door for me.
The wind and rain sounds receded as I plopped my bag down on the carpeted floor. It was quiet. I felt good there. I was safe at last.
All my life I’d dealt with storms I felt I could combat in my own strength. It was only until I came to Madison County that I realized there were some things you encounter that cannot be handled in my own strength. I met a storm that could not be outwitted, outwaited or outrun. The storm that was bigger than myself launched me toward the one place where there is shelter from the uncontrollable. It was in Madison County that I finally recognized where was the safest place to tremble when the overwhelming storms of life bear down on a foolish heart.
Elizabeth Prata is a Madison County resident and occasional columnist for The Madison County Journal.