October 23, 2017

Pray for me — I’m blest

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We have been so fortunate over the years when it comes to storms, disasters, and other troubles that radically disrupt life. There are many, many people in Indiana this summer who have not had the same good fortune. We have had wave after wave of severe weather, including tornadoes, dangerous straight line winds, heavy rainfall and flooding. A quarter of our state’s corn crop has been lost. Homes have been destroyed. Businesses have lost fortunes. People have died. There are times when we realize our sense of control is a carefully managed illusion.

Just yesterday around noon I was driving on the west side of Indianapolis when I saw what looked like a rolling wall of black coming from the northwest toward the city fast. It reminded me of those pictures of majestic dust storms that once beseiged the plains in America’s Dust Bowl years. But this was a churning mass of wind, rain, and hail that was speeding like a freight train toward us. Not a speck of dust in it. I pulled in front of the house where I had a scheduled visit and waited for the nurse to arrive. Just before she pulled up the storm hit and I couldn’t see or hear anything. I might as well have driven my car into a raging river. Through the waves cascading down my windshield, I could just make out the nurse pulling up and jumping from her car to sprint toward the garage, which the owner had mercifully opened. Then it was my turn. I’m pretty sure an umbrella or raingear would have been futile; there was no escaping the plunge into the deep I was about to take. I got wet.

Then, as we visited safe and warm inside, the storm passed by quickly and the sun came out. Whatever wind was driving it had places to go.

An hour later I got a text from my wife to call. I couldn’t respond right away, but when I eventually did, I found out our house had been wounded in the onslaught. A huge branch from our neighbor’s ancient maple had come down, crashing through his fence and landing on the railing of our deck, taking down our phone and electric lines in the process. Amazingly, we retained power through the night and next day. When the branch hit the wires, it bent one of the utility poles by our parking space to about a 45 degree angle. Worse, it pulled our electric meter off the house along with the the line that connected it to the point where the wire came from the pole.

It took the electric company about 30 hours to get someone out to look at it. Our minor damage was not high on the priority list. This makes perfect sense when you consider that others were dealing with lightning strikes, fires, live wires on the ground where people walk and drive, trees and limbs that crashed through houses and other structures, and massive power outages affecting homes, businesses, and traffic lights. However, they told us our situation was indeed dangerous to anyone who might come near the side of our house and so they disconnected the lines. For a time we are without power.

That’s why I’m writing this from Applebee’s just up the road. I thought I could come here and do my writing tonight, and, as a bonus, watch the MLB All-Star game. Wrong. Applebee’s was hit too. No TV. No internet. Oh well. I’ll just write the post and then turn my phone hotspot on later to upload it to the site.

First world problems, they call them. This episode will cost us a bit of hassle, an as-yet undetermined amount of money we weren’t expecting to spend, and the loss of some of our accustomed comfort along the way.

The electrician will be at the house at 7 a.m. We may be back in business by mid-afternoon tomorrow if all goes well, maybe a little later. La-di-da.

I visited India once during monsoon season. I’ve seen what happens to people who live under the shelter of cardboard boxes when real rain hits and keeps hitting until there’s no place to hide. I have seen life and hope obliterated. I have nothing to complain about. I probably will anyway, knowing me. And I hate that.

I am so rich. So fortunate. So “blessed,” some would say. Sure, I know there’s no guarantee. The earth could open up and swallow me whole tomorrow. Or, more likely, the skies will open up and drown my sorry ass. But I have a thousand safety nets others lack.

And that’s why I need prayer. Not because I have troubles. But because I’m so “blessed.” There’s little that can wither a soul like prosperity and well being.

Comments

  1. Damaris says:

    May God grant you the hardships you need to have and the grace you need to cope.Still, I’m glad that you and Gail are all right.

  2. Dan form Georgia says:

    Amen! We have it sooooo good here that we get caught complaining when traffic is bad, or a branch falls on our yard, when people around the world don’t have enough food and clean water. Great Post, and glad your storm damage wasn’t worse.

    • Robert F says:

      There are people here in the first world who also don’t have their basic necessities met, and some of them might even be your neighbors. When you say “We have it soooo good here” you are not really speaking for everyone, and perhaps not even everyone you know, certainly not everyone who puts in an appearance here at iMonk. Not everyone living in the first world is living a first world life.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Smug Alert…

  3. AfraidOfOutages says:

    In 2012 we spent 12 days without power, phone, cell phone, internet and 7 days without water following Hurricane Sandy. (earlier that year it was 10 days from the derecho). My mother died 1 day before the hurricane, so I had to postpone her funeral, set before the storm. The only way to reach the funderal,director was when my husband hooked a solar charged battery to his ham radios and contcted an emergency net who reached the funeral home and church. It was beyond inconvenient. It was horrible. I no longer trust that utilities will be on, lol, b ut seriously after that I suffer a bit of ptsd when it storms. Good luck during your repairs!

    • Peace From The Fringes says:

      Yes! I suspect I live very near where you do and I still have an involuntary emotional and physiological reaction when I hear high winds or the sky darkens. Suspect it’s a deep, subconscious understanding of our frailty and the thin veneer of civilization that we take for granted. I’m generally able to mindfully calm myself and function ‘normally’, but it’s a very odd and uncomfortable sensation. Meditation, and my own oddball version of prayer, are critical.

  4. Randy Thompson says:

    It is indeed a terrifying thing to find yourself in the middle of a storm such as this. You come face to face with how little of God’s creation we can control, despite all our incredible technology. If Creation teaches us about God, such storms teach us the fear of the Lord.

    Many years ago, while living in New Haven, Connecticut, we too went through such a storm. What you wrote describes what we experienced then. The only difference was, my wife was driving home from the supermarket and, as the storm intensified, she saw a funnel cloud cross the road a block or two ahead of her. By the way, we were without power for a week or so after. (And, by the way, if you get dry ice to keep the things in your refrigerator cool, you’ll discover that it cools all too well: All the new fruits and vegetables my wife just bought were frozen stiff!)

    • Damaris says:

      Was that the hurricane in late May or early June of — I don’t remember exactly; maybe 1982? I was in New Haven then. It was exciting.

      • Sleeping says:

        Where is Martha from Ireland?
        I very much loved hearing of the historical accounts of the Catholic Church.

        In times of tempest, it is healing and helpful to remember the people in the cloud of witnesses who’ve gone before. On aside, isn’t if strange to hear people say, “this is a historical event”. Some people hear it as something wow — never happened like this before. Others hear and think, “if it’s historical… if it’s like what has been before… then what can you surely expect to happen in the direction you’re going?”

        A goodness of grace happens…
        And then what?

      • Randy Thompson says:

        Damaris, I was talking about the the tornado that went through Connecticut (and New Haven) happened in May or June of 1989, my wife tells me. There was also a hurricane (“Gloria” I think).in 1985 or 1986, but it was in the fall. (We were living close to Long Island Sound that year, so we were evacuated. It turned out not to be the big deal they were worried about. Still, though, plenty of excitement for us!

  5. I felt exactly that way with the 2008 recession. I had a few really down and difficult years in my business but my wife kept the same income and we were not in any danger of losing our home or anything of the sort. Suffering? I don’t think so. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t suffering.

  6. On a related note, I stopped praying the politician’s prayer — God bless America — awhile back and have started asking God to save America. Maybe that is beginning to happen since William Cowper* was right.

    *God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.

    Deep in u fathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sov’reign will.

    Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.

    His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.

    Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

  7. I guess hurricanes and high winds put silly things like all star games in their proper frame. The LORD of sorrows be with you today, and always, Chap Mike.

  8. Sean Riain says:

    I completely understand what CM is talking about. I live 40 miles north of Indianapolis and have witnessed the continual onslaught of storms we have had. In fact, I have now lost a total of five complete trees and another that will survive but has been seriously reshaped. Fortunately, we have not had any damage to our home and one tree narrowly missed hitting my car by inches. Others in my neighborhood have not been as lucky. I have many friends and neighbors that have had severe damage to their homes and vehicles. Clean up has been nothing short of exhausting. However, we are blessed that no one in my community has been severely injured.

  9. And that’s why I need prayer. Not because I have troubles. But because I’m so “blessed.” There’s little that can wither a soul like prosperity and well being.

    Mike, you sound like one of Tevye-the-milkman’s friends who said to him, “But don’t you know, Reb Tevye, that riches are a curse?” Tevye responded, “May the Lord smite me with it! and may I never recover!”

    We were blessed last summer at this time too—by a visit from you and Gail, of course, but also by being spared too much damage from a freak July hurricane A few days before you got here a maple tree got dumped on my roof (only wrinkled and few shingles, and missed my truck by a few inches). Later that day I helped with a boat that had gone ashore, and that worked out even better. No damage to the boat, and the owner gave those of us who salvaged it some very nice gift certificates to the Dock Restaurant.

    But I know what you mean. We really are blessed and shouldn’t take it for granted. I think it’s part of what we call Grace.

  10. So a few weeks ago, Chaplain Mike invited discussion about whether the Charleston Black community/communities/individuals were too quick to forgive the murderer of a prayer group. Or that’s my impression of that discussion.

    Why was that reflex of forgiveness or the idea that maybe they are evangelicals who aren’t allowed to mourn, why was that under scrutiny when Chaplain Mike is going immediately from unexpected physical danger to “first world problems; I am blessed?” Why isn’t Chaplain Mike allowed to mourn?

    I’m not saying that some perspective on where we are relative to the world should never take place, but the in-congruence here is striking to me.

    We just got the medical bill for my emergency surgery, $2400. Yea, the hospital billed $17000. Yea, I’m alive instead of dead. It’s not that I’m ungrateful, but I am not dancing the I’m blessed dance today because $2400 is real money. I’ll get to the I’m blessed dance eventually–I am alive after all and I’m not paying the whole bill and in fact have good insurance, but I don’t feel any guilt for not dancing that dance today.

    • Robert F says:

      Andie,
      The co-payments these days can be bad for your health. And I don’t see any problem with deferring the blessings dance to another day, when it’s actually possible.

    • Robert F says:

      Perhaps we should be as careful when gratitude is the first word as we are when forgiveness is, at least when neither leaves room for lament.

  11. Robert F says:

    The rain falls sideways,
    the lightning crashes straight down–
    the cat is awake.

  12. OldProphet says:

    Got up early this morning, a little stiff, but I’m alive. A cup of coffee, man coffee at 6 am sure tastes good. Read some N.T. Wright stuff; I really like his work and I’m growing a lot. It’s going to be a beautiful day here in the desert of SoCal. God is with me. I want him to be proud of me and receive my offering of service today. What is your will for me this day, my Master?

  13. OldProphet says:

    Black Just black. Only girley men use milk. Of course, I have a Keurig! Just suffering for the kingdom, my brother. How do you like your dog food? Aaaaahhhhhrrrrrooooo!

    • StuartB says:

      I use heavy cream in my milk, or half and half if that’s not available. The added fats help curb my appetite and have contributed to me dropping 30 lbs in the last couple of months…while increasing my deadlift and squats, lol.

    • Robert F says:

      Keurig??! Keurig?!! I don’t need no stinkin’ Keurig!!

  14. OldProphet says:

    What did the dog say when he walked over some sandpaper? Ruff, ruff!

  15. I’m very glad you’re OK, Mike!

    Little scary how dependent we first-worlders are on electricity.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    First world problems, they call them.

    If all you have is First World Problems, you will STILL react to them like Life-and-Death Survival as the hardwiring in your hindbrain combines with Maslow’s Heirarchy.