Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mud for My Birthday

“If you pray for rain, be prepared to deal with some mud.”
– Mary Englebreit –

     I walked out of church on Sunday into a wall of humidity. After weeks and weeks of drought there was no question it was going to rain; too much ominous promise in that dark, thunderous sky. The question was whether I could make it to my car parked at the library two blocks away before it unfurled. It was my birthday and I felt the coming rain was a gift from the Almighty. It filled me with exhilaration. I began to run, unable to suppress the glee rising within.

     “I’m going to outrun this gust front,” I laughed as I passed other parishioners on the sidewalk. The wind heard my challenge and blew harder. I caught up with a woman even older and grayer than me and was about to race past her bubbling a joyous “Wheeeeee…” when I pulled up short and stopped.

     “Are you walking home?” I asked her.

     “Yes,” she replied, looking a little distressed.

     I offered her a ride. We proceeded at a more dignified pace and reached the car just as the rain began to fall. Within seconds we could hardly see the road ahead. I was glad the woman lived close. By the time we reached her house it was raining so hard she couldn’t get out of the car without getting drenched, so we waited for the worst of the storm to pass. The wind blew even harder. Then it began to hail. We were under large trees, and I hoped they would break the fall of ice and save the car from dents. A long time passed and we had a lovely chat. She was an interesting woman who had taught American missionary children in the United Arab Emirates for twenty-six years, a primitive area in southern Chad for two years, and then on to Korea before retiring at 73.

     At last the rain subsided and I headed for home. As soon as I backed out of the driveway, I realized how providential it was that my car had not been damaged, or worse. Tree branches littered the streets and as I crept home, weaving around the storm-wrack, I began laughing with relief and repeating to myself: “Oh my. Oh my goodness! OH MY GOODNESS!!!” Downed power lines, flooded roadways, snapped and uprooted trees, flattened fences and street signs bent to the ground—the storm was worse than I thought. By the time I reached our neighborhood I was praying, “Please, Lord, not the birch tree…”

     I have pampered that river birch in the front yard for twenty years. I didn’t plant it, but I fell in love with it when we bought our home. Birches are not taken for granted in this part of the country. It turned out that the birch was the only tree in the yard left intact. With 90 mph winds, I lost two mature silver maples and three evergreens. My shade garden is gone and I am sick about the shattered trees, but I am hoping that with all of the sudden sunlight I might be able to grow some things my heart has been longing for: violets, lavender, roses, daisies, herbs…tomatoes! Just think of the possibilities.

     The house did not come through unscathed, but we are safe, and with all of the trees so recently flying about like harpies, it could have been much worse. We lost power, but have a generator that provides the basic necessities. Most importantly, I am not alone; my globe trekking husband is just home from Indonesia to manage the clean-up and deal with the insurance.

     I can’t say it was a happy birthday, but it certainly was a memorable one. I am weary and wilted but not worried, and I am content. In my experience, contentment often outlasts happiness, and sometimes it takes the peeling away of the common, everyday graces for us to glimpse God's blessings hidden beneath the surface.

Photography by little a


  1. I enjoyed this post and the thrill of the rain, and how adversity is sometimes only as adverse as it is perceived to be. Happy birthday and good luck with the possible violets, lavender, roses, daisies, herbs, tomatoes.

  2. It seems you were meant to meet this woman. She saved you from the worst of the storm.

    In my opinion, home grown tomatoes are one of the best things in life. John Denver agrees Enjoy.