September 26, 2005

Storms in Our Lives

Time after time, I heard the passage of the Lord's control over the storm at the Sea of Galilee. I inherently understood, through contextual study of the passage, that Jesus can help me through the trying times if only I turn to Him. It wasn't until Thursday, however, that I was able to really give it a try.

On Thursday night (around 10:20), my family and I finally made what was normally a 2-hour trip to the safe haven of northwest Houston, the base of my grandparents' house. We were hampered after boarding up windows and consolidating our invaluables for the first time. Even as a seasoned carpenter, my dad couldn't gather any more thought as to how to best divide and cut the available plywood for any possible window protection. So, with a pad, a pencil and some proactivity, I jump-started his thinking and skills to work again, and we fortified what we thought were going to be the most hard-hit spots on our house. I almost felt like a hero, someone who actually applied his geometry and algebra skills to save a window (and an entire house)!

Then comes something familiar to all of us evacuees: an interminable moment staring at the bright tailights of the next unit in the record-breaking exodus. We were blessed enough, at one point, to be moving a couple feet every few minutes--as opposed to every few hours--down the road, one carlength closer to our destination (Even this kind of progress may demand the patience of a dear saint, but we weren't a part of the hundreds of thousands on the major highways that were cooped up for hours on end). And, of course, almost every gas station I saw literally looked like a rest stop, with little hope for a tanker to give fuel to starving 4-wheeled machines... all while the Wicked Witch of the West was creeping up on us.

Right around that time, and when we arrived at my grandparents', did I begin showing -- and feeling -- fear. I relayed the worst details of the storm (175 mph wind, 897 mb of pressure) to almost everyone I knew within earshot. I began to suffer marked lightheadedness which I never before felt. In all of this, however, was a sign: I had this physical suffering to offer up to the Lord. So I began to seek shelter in the arms of Our Mother of Sorrows, through one decade of the Holy Rosary, and prayed not only for the protection of our temporal home but for the Holy Spirit to remain in me during these trying times. And indeed it has.

My prayer may have helped to steer the hurricane away from the Bayou City, but my house would still be in the "dirty side." Over here in Magnolia, the storm just gave us no more than a couple of inches and 25+ mph winds. I felt safe here. Would I have to feel safe here for another week or two? As it turned out, my school was one of the last in the area to resume after just that long a break, so I did stay, but not without much anxiety. I would not come to see the condition of my house until the second week after landfall.

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