Tuesday morning I dropped Sophie off in Leiperâ€™s Fork to check out a school. The long drive is not something I typically do any other morning. Just think Tennessee farms, horses, and fog settling beneath the branches of empty trees on a cool winter morning. On the way home, I purposefully let up on the gas pedal and turned the radio off. The quiet helps me think. And remember.
Itâ€™s hard to believe that just two nights before, eerie tornado sirens were drowned out as the wind whipped through the Bradford pears and delivered hail and buckets of water.
This calm after the storm reminds me of a time when Sophie and I flew to Texas to visit my mom. On the way to the airport, Regi said, â€œNot such a great day to fly.â€ The sky was gray and the thunder deep within the horizon made me think the second coming was underway. I got nervous when the pilot came over the loud speaker to announce that the beverage service would be delayed. That always means trouble.
The planeâ€™s ascent felt like I was riding in my momâ€™s blue Pinto on the dirt road of my childhood rather than in an MD 80. If you could get inside my mind at these times, youâ€™d hear me praying the Rosary, meditating, reciting the books of the Bible, and then settling in as I lock into a familiar Rich Mullins tune. I make sure my bases are covered.
This particular flight occurred after Iâ€™d had a conversation with my mom about spatial disorientation. (I bring these things on myself.) I managed to convince myself that we were experiencing that phenomenon as we sliced through the clouds. Were we right side up or upside down? It looked as though the clouds were slapping the windows of the plane; we were in an all out tug-of-war as we climbed. Sophie nestled her head in my lap and fell asleep. I gripped my armrests as the guy in 14B read the newspaper.
Eventually we shot out of the clouds and we were sitting atop what resembled muddy cotton candy. Now that we were over the storm everything was breathtaking. Blue skies stretched as far as my eye could see. And not just any blue; it was bluer than anything Crayola has ever attempted. The airplane was so calm that I wondered if the storm had been that bad. Did I overreact? Finally the familiar ding echoed across the loud speaker and the illuminated seat belt disappeared.
Wouldnâ€™t it be so much easier if we could all be ensured a smooth ride?
The truth is, we will encounter turbulence along our way. Iâ€™ve come to learn that often the only path to a blue sky is the one that goes right through a mean storm. Iâ€™m talking a choppy, knuckle-gripping squall that lasts longer than the weatherman predicted. But think of this: itâ€™s only after the misery of winter that yellow daffodils are prompted from the ground!
Perhaps that blue sky is placed above us as an anchor. An anchor of hope that says weâ€™re in for some tough times and that we need to buckle up. An anchor that reminds us there is something greater beyond the blue. An anchor, firm and steady.
Whatever it means for you, I pray you find the courage to get through your situation. After all, itâ€™s usually the most uncomfortable road that takes you on the ride of your life!