Sounds surreal. I’ve lived here all my life and don’t remember an afternoon like the one I just had. I brought my girls home from piano lessons and errand running to turn on the news to images of a tornado tearing through the center of the metroplex.
The shot was shocking, taken from the air where a helicopter circled. The meteorologist commented on the “debris” that was flying through the air. I felt sick. Debris is like scattered papers or pencil shavings. I was seeing the roofs of people’s houses, their walls, bookcases, and possessions. It’s so easy to call it debris, but the truth was all too vivid on my screen and I started praying for the people in the path of the storm. “The houses right there. And that building. And make the drivers on that road stop before they get too close.”
Little did I realize I was in the path of another tornado just like it. Not then anyway, but I figured it out soon enough. I got my kids and my neighbor’s kids set up playing cards in the bathroom while I listened to the weather radio and stared at the hook echo on the TV screen that approached. The sirens in the city to our south had been blaring for some time, but the wall cloud wasn’t really close. And it looked to veer a little west. Or maybe it was going to lean toward the east?
I couldn’t avoid the truth. That monster had a bead on my house. It had been traveling in the same direction the entire time and was coming right for us. But at least it had gone back into the sky for the moment.
My son called me, giving voice to my fear. The clouds had spewed forth another twister less than a mile away from us and we were in the direct path. The kids were playing and laughing so they hardly heard the new chorus of sirens from down the street that drowned out the television.
From across the room I peaked into my backyard – seeing the southwestern sky that held a terrifying secret. Darkness. Not a cozy past sunset darkness or the promise of predawn but impending, intruding darkness with the stillness of death. No bird flying, not a whisper of a breeze. I kept whispering prayers as my son spoke.
Then I saw them. “The trees are starting to toss.” My son calmed me down and urged me to go into the bathroom, but I just couldn’t. The kids would see I was afraid and it would spread. I couldn’t do that to them … until I had to.
I glanced at the TV where the reporter pointed to a zoomed up map and radar image. “We’re hearing reports of a tornado on the ground. If there is one it will be in this area.” He pointed to a small section of the map.
“Boy, the man just pointed at my house!” I’ve never had a weatherman point anywhere near my house. It totally freaked me out.
But Dear Boy was calm. “Mom you know you’re okay. It’s only a little rope right now; not even enough to push over the fence. It’s gonna be fine.”
“Could you just stay on the phone with me?” My sweet boy understood and just chatted for a minute. At that point, I perched on the arm of my couch ready to dash if I saw any more indication of wind, but it stopped, like the sky held it’s breath.
Then something utterly remarkable happened. The radar renewed it’s image. The rotating cell approaching my neighborhood disappeared and immediately reappeared less than a mile away – DIRECTLY EAST OF WHERE IT HAD BEEN. With the twister no longer heading right for me, I released a breath I’d held for hours. As I’m writing to you, my jaw is still sore from my of grinding and clamping.
Now I know tornadoes are unpredictable creatures, but even my weather-bug boy was shocked at how this one had so abruptly broken it’s character. I can’t explain it and wouldn’t want to try because my small mind cannot comprehend the ways of the Lord. And I learned another miracle later that evening. Thirteen different tornadoes touched down – some of them came multiple times … Only minor injuries.
Yes, God is good. He would’ve been good if the tornado had hit my house, too, but all I could feel was profound gratefulness that He spared our home and blessed the people who were in the storm’s path with another day.