“You want to go to a tree farm in the middle of Alabama?”
“Yes,” I replied to my husband. “I need to get out of here and I need to be around trees. Lots of trees.”
“And the trees needed to be in … Alabama?”
“The trees needed to be within a three hour radius.”
“I see,” he sighed, resigned.
We pulled up to the colonial home we would be staying in for three days. A large wrap around porch greeted us with porch swings and rocking chairs, the kind of porch you can watch a thunderstorm on and not get wet. The home was surrounded by two ponds and pine trees taller than buildings, older than us.
It was perfect.
“It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow,” Jesse complained.
“I know,” I looked up and released a breath into the sky that smelled of approaching rain. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
That evening we spent in silence outside, moving back and forth on the porch swing and looking up at the stars you can only see out in the country …
… or after a hurricane that knocks your whole town’s power out and everything else. I know those stars well.
All too well.
The rainclouds kissed the roof of the porch the next afternoon. I grabbed my blanket and pillow like I was preparing to watch a movie on the couch. Curling up in the rocking chair with a cup of coffee, I waited for the performance of nature.
Does the wind truly have a sound? Or is it the movement of the leaves in unison that makes the air feel like it has a voice, a message, a resonance, a music, like it’s the breath of some invisible creature exhaling life into the world?
Puddles began to pool beneath the canopy, the soft sprinkle of water tinkling like glass beads hitting the pavement. The kids ran through the trees underneath their umbrellas, laughing and sloshing through the world’s natural splash park.
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prick up as the breeze gained speed, the sky breaking open and its reservoirs spilling over.
A mighty dance had begun.
The children ran inside, the rain meeting their little faces under their umbrellas. I stayed where I was, watching.
My husband crashed through the porch door, a hood over his head and a disparaging look in his eyes.
“What are we supposed to do now?” He asked.
“Now,” I smiled. “We wait and we watch and we enjoy.”
The pine trees acted as sails to an invisible ship, the branches filling with air and tossing whisps between eachother in every direction. All took turns catching and throwing, that great game of wind catching. Balls of wind swirled through the downpour, making spiraling shapes through the woods.
Ghosts moved atop puddles, their cloaks gliding upon the surface of the water, sweeping away into elsewhere.
I couldn’t help it, the agitation arose, fear prickled through every pore of my skin. Storms helped raise me, their lessons abide in me as movement and grace and wonder and greatness and miracles.
Have you ever danced beneath an open sky? The water washing away all traces of pain and sorrow?
Have you ever yelled into thunder? It’s wholeness and ferocity calling out hope and wonder?
Have you ever ran after a swirling wind? Your breath leaving you to join the breeze?
And have you ever sat on the knee of a bolt of lightening? The crack of its whip awakening your soul, reminding you that you live?
Making you whole.
Yes, storms are great teachers.
I swallowed. The last storm hurt me. The lightening cut me, the thunder scared me, the rain made everything cold, the wind screamed at me.
For the first time, I was burned by a storm.
How many times had I sat by a window watching a summer shower fog up the glass? How many times had my heart fluttered to read my precious books to the sound of pitter-pattering rain on the roof of an old house? How many times had I awoken from the best sleep of my life because a thunderstorm lulled me into oblivion?
How many times has the rain made flowers grow?
Yes, I have been healed by storms far more than they have burned me.
It was time I remembered it.
I closed my eyes and felt that storm wash through me, felt it heal me, make me whole. I felt the wonder and the hope and the excitement and the magic. I watched those ghosts float from the puddles to disappear into the wind. I witnessed their shadows greet me and bid me farewell, taking my secrets, releasing my wishes.
I let a storm heal me like a thousand times before, pushing down my fear and embracing the unknown.
I celebrated the lightening, “I’m alive.”
I answered the thunder, “Yes, I am here.”
I honored the wind, “You are lovely.”
I let the rain kiss me all over and heal my very soul.
And then it was gone as a whisper, off to greet some other weary traveller through this world.
My son clomped onto the porch.
“Well, it was peaceful,” my husband greeted him.
He climbed into my lap and tucked his head under my chin.
We listened to the wind.