A couple of weeks ago, we were hit by a surprise overnight storm – winds and rain buffeted our little house and the sound of pine cones and branches hitting the metal roof made us feel like we were in a war zone. In the morning, the decks and yard were littered with a thick carpet of debris. This was a storm that no one had predicted.
This past week, we’ve been assailed by dire warnings and predictions that a series of three storms will come in off the Pacific and pound our little world. High winds and torrential rains were on the menu. Weather forecasters explained that the first storm would be the least powerful, but that the third one would be the tail end of a Superstorm – a typhoon that had crossed the Pacific to find us. One forecaster gravely warned us that this would be as bad as a similar storm that had devastated our area nearly sixty years earlier.
The first storm blew in. Heavy rain pounded the roof, but no wind to speak of. I stopped holding my breath and thanked God for small mercies. I was surprised to see reports of downed trees and power outages in other areas nearby.
A day and a half later, the second storm hit. Again, heavy rain, a little more wind, but nothing of any significance. I was beginning to feel a little cocky, thinking that we must be in some magic area of “no-storm”winds. And again, reports of downed trees, flooding and power outages dominated the local news.
Then, the weather reports turned dire. The first two storms hadn’t been nearly as bad as predicted, but we could be sure that the typhoon-driven storm was going to be a doozy, they said. We should prepare for the worst, they said. This wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, they intoned.
Now, I live in a forest, literally. There are a hundred and sixty little houses scattered on the back side of a mountain, tucked in among towering old-growth spruces, cedars and pines. Thirteen of these gigantic beauties surround my house, with their enormous branches forming a cathedral overhead. I looked up and contemplated one of them falling in the forecasted hurricane force winds. Others around me were having similar thoughts.
I went to the shed and found the camping stove, the water containers, the emergency candles, the flashlights, and the battery radio – none of which I’d thought about since I moved here from the East two years ago. I dragged them all into the kitchen. I filled the kettle and the bathtub with water (bathtub water meant that a toilet could be flushed), and pulled out the picnic cooler to store frozen items if the power was off for any length of time. I cleared the decks, tucked away everything that looked as if it would blow away, and hunkered down.
The day wore on – all ferries were cancelled. AmTrak was cancelled in the neighbouring state. Highways were closed. Oh my.
Five hours later, they said it was over. Our storm? Rain, a couple of minor wind gusts, and by early evening, the sky was clear and there was a full moon riding on the branches of my grandfather trees.
So much for being prepared.
Isn’t that always the way? Like our un-forecast storm of a few weeks ago, sometimes life just smacks us in the face when we least expect it. We’re unprepared and ill-equipped to face the challenge, and all we can do is turn to God and pray.
And then there’s those life events that we know are coming – surgeries, deaths, divorces, bankruptcies. We try to be ready. Like good boy scouts, we’re determined to be prepared for them and so we spend weeks and months “getting ready” to face the worst, only to find it wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d thought it would be.
Maybe there’s something to the verse, “Take no thought for the morrow…”
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