This memory (or is it a feeling or act?) of fear as instructed by the Almighty God telling me I MUST do what is right–right, a simple thing convoluted by either fleshly desire or the other thing, that much lesser thing roaming the earth to and fro looking for whom to devour, goes back as far as I can remember.
I’ve always been convicted.
And it was impressed upon me young by perhaps my mother we live to die. I used to, as a little girl, imagine riding a rollercoaster, the ups and the downs, the adrenalin and the excitement, the sheer joy of making it to the end and the ability to do it all again–and then It just stops. It being feelings. It being knowledge. No more rollercoaster. It’s all over; nothing happens. Hard to imagine.
But It doesn’t just stop. Our souls continue as everything continues to live in one form or another. The stars (how long they live!) are in us. Yes, life is a gift!
It is a present I see placed in the form of a casket at age four during my maternal grandfather’s funeral, my only living memory of him. Crystal clear I see the stadium-like seating nearly encircling his wooden box, lending a centered appearance. I thought we were all assembled just to watch him sleep. “Grandpa sure must be important,” I whispered to my brother James, beaming with pride at us being part of his lineage. My smile caught the eye of an older cousin. Then I started noticing people crying. Am I supposed to cry, too? I pretended. It almost felt real. After eating, on the way to the car, I asked my mother, “When is grandpa going to wake up?”
“He’s not. He’s dead.”
That cousin of mine (who never stopped making trouble) told the elders my brother and I were laughing about our grandfather dying. In actuality, I was smiling at his peace.
Mother used to say every trip to Oklahoma from Kansas I cried the entire way until making it to Okmulgee, where I was placed on my grandpa’s lap and fell promptly to sleep. He is the only man besides my dad she granted exception to the no girl should sit on a man’s lap rule.
And there that thing was again, I remember, a year later in the car driving through a storm, looking up at the sky and the dancing lightning, thunder providing the beat. I appreciated the beauty in it all, amazed at God’s power. I told my mother, “The devil’s trying to make me do something bad, but I’m not going to let him.”
On that drive to red dirt land, the city blacks built into their very own wall street, the place of the greatest act of terrorism in the great U.S.—the destruction of that bustling economy by rabid white supremacists, that country place, we had to pull over because the storm was so powerful, the view out the window was obstructed by the rapid rain; the windshield wipers on the baby blue Cadillac El Dorado couldn’t keep up. My parents talked in the front seat in an uncustomary calm manner.
We were headed to Tulsa to visit family that night, and though it wasn’t some exotic place I’d have preferred, one I’d only dreamed about back then—maybe France or India or even New York—it was where family lived, where Aunt Jo cooked, where the family’s matriarch, my 100 year-old-plus great-grandmother stayed.
To be in the presence of a calm spirit is a blessing magnified by the crossing of a storm. Upon arrival to my great-grandmother’s home the candy bowls were full, the chicken was meaty (I wasn’t yet vegan!), and there was plenty of bread.
Storms end and then begin. There is joy in the mist, and in the midst. When the rain doesn’t seem to cease, know however destructive the downpour may appear, with prosper usage of the raw materials prosperity can be had by everyone. If the storm be tears from weeping, know the Lord says joy cometh in the morning.
Storms bring down the water that allows plants, animals and people to flourish; it is transformative. Of all water’s forms, it is in fluid that its promises are ushered into fruition. From the downpour nutrients are extracted; from the experience gratitude is garnered through humility.
The blood of Jesus itself is accessed through the flow of water by baptism.
Mother taught us to walk in the rain, play in the rain, and dance in the rain. Mother taught us to feel the rain. On a stormy day in Wichita, she led us around the block barefoot so we could feel the water catching in the gutter between our toes. When we returned home, and the lightening had picked up, I ran around the front yard spinning around in circles, praising God in the midst of the storm in recognition of His power to both create all the elements to make a storm and His power and promise to protect us from it. The feeling of gutter water between my toes is one of the best feelings I’ve known.
Storms are a memory of the power of growth, change and cycles. The next time you are caught in one, take a twirl while sending up your praises to the Lord; you’ve just met condensation.
by Margery Hannah
I look forward to them the way I once wet-tongued over cotton candy as a child. Neon afro-sugar melting in my mouth, what is sweeter than that? We marched in the rain until we became it, two drops sinking below dirt and resurrected with an ache carrying us above nimbus fluff. Like this poem? Get the collection here.