Sunday evening the skies above our town churned with layers of white, black and blacker clouds. I watched from our deck as here and there, from the blacker ones, tails formed and threatened to descend. I was ready, should those funnels really get it together in earnest, to run for the basement. It wasn’t long until we heard that a tornado did touch down and wreak havoc, demolishing the centre of Goderich, less than an hour away from our home.
We have extended family members who live in that town, and we wondered if they had been affected. We later learned they were safe. Another couple we know were there with their grandchildren. Had their little granddaughter not been in such a hurry to get her promised Timbits, they may still have been down on the beach when the storm hit. As time goes on (it happens anytime there is a natural disaster) there will be many such stories of near misses or providential moves at just the right time. Those times feel like small miracles or mercies—what if we hadn’t? is often asked. For the family of the only casualty, the quandary will be “if only.”
Three days later, I sit in the basement writing this entry, because after Sunday’s happening, our local station has been super-careful to keep the severe weather watch and warnings running across the bottom of the tv screen—it’s been doing that all afternoon. And because of my heightened awareness of what could happen if we ignore those warnings, I choose to play it safe and do my work in the basement instead of upstairs with one eye toward the west.
With communication so advanced, we hear and see video footage of natural tragedies almost as soon as they happen all over the world. We are aware of the pain and suffering of the people involved. We let ourselves feel their pain for awhile and maybe even make a donation to help them. The closer to us, the more we become involved, the more conscious we are that it could happen to us. I used to struggle with my ability to forget so quickly. Perhaps we cannot always live in that kind of heightened awareness, but we can learn from those times.
While thinking through the happenings of the past few days, I was reminded of Mr. Simmonds who taught a few evening classes I took at Toronto Bible College many years ago. He had the class all note our greatest fear, then our assignment was to write a composition about what we would do if that happened—how we would face it and get through it. That exercise helped us, as he put it, “Turn around and face our fear instead of fleeing from it.”
That exercise assisted me many times in life, to do just that. It helped me many years later when one of those greatest fears I had noted did happen—the love of my life died. Although at the news that it probably would happen, I was tempted to flee from it, I was able to turn and face it head on. However his death had a more lasting effect. Somehow, since then, it’s easier to believe that it could happen to me or to ones I love. Rather than making me paranoid and fearful, it has done the opposite.
Although I take precautions (like sitting in the basement in threatening weather) a deep contentment and peace is present even in threatening circumstances because l know that my times are in the hands of the One who planned my life in the beginning. It’s wise to live as well as we can and take precautions, but it’s also wise to take risks if necessary. However there is only so much one can do to determine the outcome of any circumstance in life. How grateful I am that Mr. Simmonds set me on the right track so long ago.