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Basement faith

We spent our evening in the basement last night. That is part of living in the South. A tornado can happen anytime, even four days before Christmas.

We knew all day that bad weather was coming. My husband and I are both “certified storm spotters”. We have certificates to prove it. We have taken seven hours of classes to learn more about severe weather. We’d been watching the weather and anticipating it turning worse. It was fairly pleasant all day. Overcast, sure, but warm. If it weren’t for the grey sky you’d think it was a nice spring day.

We went about our day as normal, with the understanding that we might have to cut our plans short and get home fast. Fortunately the bad weather held out and we got most of our chores taken care of.

We don’t really have a plan of action when a storm hits. The training really is for spotting tornados, not riding them out. But I’ve lived in the South all my life and tornadoes are just part of the package. That and a few years in Girl Scouts and I think I know what I’m doing. I hope and pray I’ll never actually need a real plan of action.

We started arranging things when we heard the sirens. It was around 8:30 p.m. They’ve just installed tornado sirens in our neighborhood and we are still getting used to them. I looked at the weather radar and decided we had about 20 minutes.

We turned off our computers. Lightning was associated with this storm. Of course, if it was a tornado we were facing then losing electricity would be the least of our concerns. Who cares about losing electricity when losing your house is an option?

I looked at Scott and said that the worst part about tornadoes is that where we were standing could be gone twenty minutes from now. He looked at me and said “Well, I didn’t want to come here.” He’s missing something. Sure, he moved here with his parents when he was young, but when his parents had a job opportunity when he was in his 20s, he stayed. He’s stayed all this time, and it has been 20 years. So he has chosen to stay here. That counts.

Now, it doesn’t really matter if you want to be in a tornado-prone area or not when a tornado is coming. It doesn’t matter if it is your choice or not, it is coming, and you’d better deal with it. First plan of action – don’t freak out. Assigning blame doesn’t help either.

We had just finished supper so we took our medicine. That just isn’t something to miss. Then we went to the bathroom, because well, it is important too.

We got our coats and hats and headed toward the hallway. Then I got my purse. And a book. And a flashlight. And a cushion to sit on. And a bottle of water. As an afterthought I picked up the weather radio. It isn’t much help, really, after the initial alert, but it felt like it was something I was expected to pick up.

Then the wind picked up. I went outside for a moment to look. I also prayed while out there. God can hear me inside the same as outside, but somehow I feel the connection is better when I’m outside. Perhaps something about being in harm’s way is part of it. It shows I’m not kidding.

I went back in and sat in the hallway. It was kinda boring.

I went to get a shopping bag. If I have to move quickly, it is best to have all my stuff together. Then I thought it might be a good idea to prepare the spot in the basement. You know. Just in case the storm actually got bad.

I’m reminded of the Arabic phrase. “Trust God, but tie your camel.” So I prayed, but I did something just in case. I know God looks out for me. But I also think God wants some participation here.

But then there is the story of Jesus in the boat. (Mark 4:35-41) There’s a terrible storm, and he’s taking a nap. The disciples are freaking out, and he’s cool as a cucumber. They wake him up and the only thing he’s upset about is the fact that they are upset. He knows that God is in control. They haven’t figured that out yet.

Whatever happens to us is the will of God. Freaking out doesn’t change anything. So it is better to accept it. Tornadoes in the South are good teachers of this lesson.

We pulled out some camp chairs and went to sit in the part of the basement that realtors amusingly term “unfinished.” We amusingly call it the “dead body room”. It looks like it would be perfect for that. It is all dirt and rock and cinderblocks and venting for the central air unit. There is a little standing room. There is just enough room for two people to sit face to face, so we did. Scott was a little overwhelmed with the seriousness of the situation. He and I had not waited out a storm together in this spot. Normally we are either separated because we are at work when a storm hits, or we ride it out in the hallway. We talked for a little bit about what was going on, and then I distracted him with other topics.

Sometimes the best way to get through a situation is just to live through it and not to think about it too hard.

He was getting concerned about what would happen if there was a big storm and he died. He wasn’t concerned for himself. He was concerned for me. I’ve been abandoned a lot throughout my life and he didn’t want me to go through that again. I’m not worried about it. It is what it is, and I’ve gotten through it before. I’ll get through it again. I assume it must be a lesson I need to learn.

The storm was over fast, and it wasn’t bad. Well, it wasn’t bad for us. Nobody died, but plenty of people were inconvenienced over the county. A lot of people were without electricity. Some trees down. A brick wall fell and blocked a road. Nothing big. Nothing that requires the Red Cross to mobilize.

But you never know. I’d rather ride out the storm in the “dead body room” than not and become an actual dead body. But then, am I trusting in God, or myself at this point? Sure, God is in control. God has a plan, and everything happens for a purpose. So am I supposed to go hide out during a storm or not? Is hiding out during a storm taking matters into my own hands? Or is it using the brains God gave me?

I’m reminded of the story of the guy who stayed at his house during a flood. Everybody else had evacuated, and he was still there. A rescue worker came by in a boat, and the guy was on his front steps. The rescuer yelled to him – “Come on! Get in the boat! The waters are rising!” The guy says, “Nope! I’m staying right here. I’ve followed God my whole life and He’s not going to abandon me now!” The rescuer shakes his head and goes on. An hour goes by, and the waters have risen dramatically. The guy is now standing at his second story window, because the first story is flooded. Another rescuer comes by in another boat, and says the same thing. The guy again refuses, again saying how he has followed God his whole life and God will provide for him. Another hour passes and the waters are so high now that the guy is standing on his roof. A helicopter comes by with a rope dangling down to the guy. “Come on! Climb the rope! We’re here to save you!” The guy waves them off just the same as before, with the same story. They go away.

The waters rise. He drowns. He arrives at the Pearly Gates and is quite angry with God. “I have believed in You my whole life, and always followed You! How could You let this happen?!”

And God looks at him and says “I sent you two boats and a helicopter…”

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