Lightening and Thunder

I was sitting at my desk earlier this afternoon working. I usually keep the curtain pulled across the window because of glare. The window in my office faces west and as the sun crosses to the back side of my office the glare affects my ability to see my computer screen. I realized I was hearing pounding rain on the roof of my building, so I pulled back the curtain. Indeed, the sky was grey. It looked like it was well past dusk, and the rain was sheeting down at a 45 degree angle. It pounded against the large window in my office. I turned back to the computer and then I saw a bright, intense, stroke of lightening. I started counting, “One one thousand, two one thousand” and then the rumbling started. It was a rolling thunder that shook my building and the ground for 9 seconds.

Storms in Florida are wicked and amazing. The lightening usually precedes the storm. The leading edge of the thunderhead is the most dangerous (so says my father). It can be brillantly sunny and the storm front is way off in the distance, and lightening can strike. Golfers on courses, high school football players on practice fields and people mowing lawns all know to seek shelter. In Florida, we learn about lightening the way Californians learn about earthquakes.

We also have heat lightening. Heat lightening can illuminate the sky but is totally silent. Not a murmur or sound. You anticipate the rumble, but it never comes. The most spectacular lightening are the strokes on the water. I have been in a boat on Biscayne Bay, the motor cut , bobbing like a fishing lure. we would put up the Bimini top and wait. The front would race towards us and the lightening would strike the water all around us,  fearsome but utterly wonderous. The hair on your arms would stand up from the static electricity.

I love thunderstorms. I love it when the power goes out. You can tell how silent the world COULD be if there was no electricity. Thunder makes my heart quake. You feel it in your core. There is something so primitive about thunder. I think thunder is a form of the Lord’s whimsy. He likes cymbals and loud noises. The crack of the solitary stroke in the sky. The low, baritone rumble after a web creeps across the distant horizon. Lightening looks like an EKG tracing, but erratic and disorganized and dangerous. And then the echo of all that energy released into the atmosphere is sheer, unadulterated power. It manifests out of dead space. A portal from some other dimension briefly opens and this pure energy escapes. BOOM!

In Hurricane Andrew, I don’t remember thunder. I may be wrong, but it seemed like it was just wind. WIND. That wind sounded like a 1,000 freight trains roaring through a tunnel. And it was constant and driving and incessant.

Hurricane season in Florida is a time of trepidation. Probably like fire season or blizzards. Most Floridians are amateur meteorologists. We don’t need the Weather Channel, just the miilibars from the storm’s center, the coordinates and a satellite feed. We track all of them. We talk about the west coast of Africa like a first cousin coming to a wedding. We wait and we watch. We all sit poised to run. You can begin to feel the tension, like an Olympic runner at the starting line before a 50 meter dash. All coiled and ready to spring. There are many false starts. We are happy to never run the race again. Personally, Paul and I did not lose a thing in Andrew. Both loss and gifts came from Andrew. I do not think my nephew Micheal would exist. My sister and her husband lived in a travel trailer for more than 6 months with power only from a generator. No TV. No cable. No phones. Then comes Michael 12 months after Andrew destroyed their home.

The phoenix rises from the ashes. I am amazed that out of disaster and astounding wreckage can come a truly amazing blessing.

I love bad weather for so many reasons.

1 thought on “Lightening and Thunder”

  1. I, too, love thunderstorms and watching lightning…. but I have great respect for it.

    regarding lightning in Hurricane Andrew…it depended on where you were. Down South where we huddled and waited, the lightning was almost constant for awhile, and the air turned turquoise blue with every bolt… driving rain, pounding, howling wind sceaming through your brain…and the flashing of the turquoise electrical impulse releases from the east-side storm wall — add in the tornadoes we could hear but not see…it was astounding, and made you know very quickly how absolutley insignificant you are in the universe. No human was in any kind of control during that storm.
    Mother Nature is a mighty thing…we really should respect her more.

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