The Way the Wind Blows
Last night's 70mph winds have, I'm afraid, left me shaken more than a bit this morning. I went to bed way too early, after a particularly trying day, and woke up in the dark, to the sound of rain pelting the window, hard. In spring and summer months, describing a storm would include words like "soothing", or "rhythmical".
But what I heard last night has kept me alert and on edge throughout the day. And when one feels one's house tremble on its foundation, with hard pelting rain and that sound of howling that only a 70mph wind can sing...yep, "shaken" is still the right word here. "Soothing" is still another season away.
It's not the first time, and I truly hope not the last, that the creations surrounding us have rattled our souls. I've spent more than one sleepless, speechless night on the edge of my bed, watching the sacred spectacle of a thunder-and-lightning union going on inches from my face, separated only by thin glass and humble prayers. Nature, in these wild moments, holds nothing back, and assumes nothing about our ability to receive or process what she's unleashing. It's funny--as a child, I was terrified by storms. Even the announcement of a tornado watch was enough to send me down to our basement carrying my pillowcase crammed with clothes, shoes, a familiar stuffed animal, pen and notepaper (I would be the hero who scrawled in my 5-year old hand "We're in the basement under the laundry table!", and let the wind waft the note to our rescuers). Now, living here for nearly 20 years, that fear has evolved into silent respect and wonder. I stand on the deck, face the west and the gathering clouds, and give thanks for even getting to see the power of wind, rain, cold and warm fronts, and the silver backs of the maple leaves on the trees lining the ridge. Growing up is more than feet and inches; the inner self stretches inward, carving out a deeper capacity for wonder and gratitude.
So...what to do with this "shaken" feeling? It was an unsteady hum underneath the meetings and activities of my workday. I walked the halls restlessly, inventing reasons to check the stockroom for handmade patients' gowns and training supplies. I sent print jobs to the copier that was farthest away, and made a few trips out to my truck in the parking lot, packing for my workday in Columbus on Thursday (as I write this, it's only Tuesday). I just could not settle down.
It's important to pay close attention to that which makes us feel uncomfortable. Lessons abound in these moments of uncertainty and feet-on-shifting-sands. Such feelings call us to examine our assumptions about our routines, our expectations, and our cock-sure swaggering selves. It is time well-spent, if we give ourselves over to it. The trees that I've taken for granted all these years are now missing a few limbs this morning; the lawn furniture that goes nowhere, ever, is now strewn across the chicken pasture, and I put on my boots and a headlamp before dawn to return each chair to the sitting area beneath a grove of volunteer maple saplings. 70mph winds change the landscape just enough to leave the impression that not much is permanent, nothing really belongs to us. At least, not for very long.
Patrick said he came downstairs in the midst of it all, because the swaying of our house on its foundation was more than he wanted to deal with (tough choice in a storm at our place--stay upstairs and enjoy the free-fall when the house blows down, or, come downstairs and be buried beneath the rubble of the upstairs? Haven't figured that one out yet). When things calmed down a bit--less wind and more rain--he came back upstairs. But I doubt he slept much after that.
For now, it's enough that we didn't lose electric, that the sump pump kept working, and the house eventually stopped swaying. But make no mistake--the wind that visited us last night left behind a message. Bravely, we stand and listen, shaken. Awake. Paying attention.