Peering out the jalousie window cracks, I saw the twenty foot corner Palm bent double; its top touched the sidewalk. We had stayed. Dad said the house was built on an ancient sand dune and we would be safe. Mom had put water and food and blankets and flashlights in the basement. The fact we had a basement showed the age of our 100 year old home. Modern homes did not put in basements in Florida. We got to look out as the winds picked up and that was when I had seen it. The paragon of strength and flexibility, that Palm tree, bent over double. And my five year old mind worried: if that tree was already bent over, how could the house withstand the hurricane force winds? But it was too late. We would ride out the storm come what may because my Father had decided.
The next 24 hours we huddled in the darkness of the basement. Power had failed early on. We read books and tried to play games. But mostly we heard the howling of the storm, the intensity of the rain pelting the roof. We were not going anywhere. The eye never hit us, so there was not calm moments. The winds kept going and we could hear the house shuddering. My mom prayed. Dad turned on the radio but I don't remember what was being transmitted, I only recall the wind and that Palm tree.
Afterwards, Dad and my brother began repairs on the exterior of the house and took the boards off the windows. I was engaged in piling up debris and cleaning the steps and sidewalk. My Palm tree was straight, a few branches lighter, but back standing tall and drinking in the sunshine. Dad had been right. The old house was bumped and bruised, but perfectly sound and I wondered how many storms the old place had survived.
Until lately, I did not realize the life lesson God was teaching me in that storm. My Father made a decision for my life for me to stay put during a fierce and relentless howling storm. There was nothing else for me to do but wait. Unlike my five year old self, I did not patiently listen to the winds and wait for the end. I cried. I lamented. I was overcome with grief. Now, after the storm, I am not allowed to work out the grief. I am supposed to pick up the pieces and move on. But there is lots of debris. Lots to repair. And it has to start with me. I am to be a new creature in Christ. My disposition has to radically change. This is difficult considering the full force of the storm was directed at me. Storms can cleanse and change the landscape. But afterward, after the winds, pouring rain, and beating surf, the air is fresh, clean, holy. Hoping God can produce that in me.