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Impending storms

April 14, 2015

IMG_0593There are times you can tell that a storm is in the air.  I was on my way without my camera, and had only my cell phone on the day I saw the river and knew there was a bad storm coming.  I caught this image – which isn’t as clear as I would have liked. it doesn’t show the feeling of the clouds coming.  It doesn’t show the wind picking up.  It doesn’t show the change in the air.  It doesn’t show that the river was calm but you knew that in moments it not be.   This was the day an EF 4 tornado pretty much leveled the town of Fairdale in Illinois.

I was a pastor in Kirkland for a while and know of the town and some of the people.  I knew of the warnings that were out for northern Illinois as well as for us.  The night before there were possible tornado warnings for our area as well but it was changed to bad thunder storms. We received over 4 inches in rain in 2 days.  It made me think about life and how storms effect us all.   There are times that you can hear the weather warnings.  There are times that you know because of the wind and the feeling of snow or rain start to come.  There are times that you have weather warnings and nothing happens.  There are times the wind starts to come and then it just stops.

Once we were out with our young children on this Wisconsin River.  When the storms come from one way you have plenty of time to take shelter.  One this particular day the storms came from the other direction without warning and were severe.  We were in a small open fishing boat and there were times we were cast above the waves out of the water.  The shore line wasn’t one we could get to and had to keep going until we got to our own dock.  We were grateful to have made it safe.

Warnings are only as good as you believe in them.  There was a time that we lived in a small farming town that when the sirens blew all our neighbors came outside to see if there was a funnel cloud coming.  One day there were winds blowing the garbage cans were flying so I went out to retrieve them.  There were no warnings that day but the wind became so strong it blew me down twice.  I gave up on the garbage cans and just tried to return home because I had a small child napping in the house.  I got back in the house and learned later a tornado touched down less than a mile away.  I was in the path of the storm which came without warning.

I thought about how our lives are like the impending storms that come with the weather.  There are times in our lives that we are given warnings that things might be rough.  There are times in our lives that we are not given warnings and things are rough.  There are times we see signs of danger and nothing happens.  There are times that we are ripped apart and are unaware that there was trouble.  I have heard people say “If I had known all that I was going to live through, I don’t know if I would have made it.”  Ignorance is sometimes bliss.

I think the hardest thing is to figure out if you should share with friends and family that you feel that a “storm” might be coming in their life.  It may not appear but if you are right and warnings could have saved them grief, do you act or remain silent?  Sometimes I have tried to warn people and it seems to have only made the situation worse.  Predicting storms isn’t easy.  There are weather forecasters on YouTube that show the bloopers in their predictions.  No one knows what tomorrow will bring.

Having been a pastor and parent, there are certain things that are patterns that are healthy or not healthy that you see in children/youth and the relationship with their parents and adults in their lives.  Sometimes even if you see it, there is nothing you can do to affect change with teachers or others in their lives – even your own children.  “Heads up” on trouble spots is sometimes the only help you can give.  Sometimes being their to cry with them and to help them as they pick up the pieces is the best thing.

Our United Methodist Church has the United Methodist Committee On Relief – UMCOR.  People are trained.  Money is received ahead of and after disaster.  People are trained and deployed as the situation calls for it.  I see that this kind of community gathering of help and preparedness is one that is useful in our lives and in our faith communities.  There will always be trouble.  You prepare the best you can.  You learn warning signs.  You work with people to train and be ready and then deploy as the situation warrants it.  Storm are tough.  People can be tough when you give them half a chance.  I pray for the healing and rebuilding in Fairdale and the surrounding Illinois areas hit that day.  it takes longer to build and heal that it does to have destruction hit.  Keep building.  Keep training.  Keep aware. Be there for others.  Be there for yourself.

  1. Beautiful thoughts, thanks for sharing!


  2. It’s true about getting a sense of a storm coming, both physical storms and emotional ones. I enjoyed reading your reflections here.


  3. Thanks. Glad you enjoy them.


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