It had been a week of storms. Actually, it seemed that year like July and August had been the summer of storms. There were few, if any, nice gentle soaking rains. Early in the season it was very dry and we had fallen into a drought state. Then, seemingly all at once, we made up the shortfall of rain and then some, but it had come in big rains accompanied by plenty of thunder and lightning.
The day before had been tense. After four plus inches of rain just fell just a couple of days previously and already had the yard flooded in low spots, the hazy hot afternoon kicked off a series of storms that had me tuned into the weather radar. A low ceiling of blackness just rose up in the west like a menacing dragon and seemed to swallow my world. The first assault was serious enough with a confirmed tornado touching down in Pulaski – a small town about six miles to the north. But, it was the second wave that hit even closer to home. It’s ominous when the television weather forecaster is showing the radar and explaining that the worst of this storm is just three due west and heading right at you.
I thought briefly about the crucifix on the wall. It is from my parents’ home. You can slide the front off and there are two little blessed candles in there. But then I also recalled my mother’s stories of staying with her Aunt Jo during the summers when she was young; Aunt Jo was deathly afraid of thunderstorms. Aunt Jo always lit blessed candles in a storm and insisted that everyone in the house get up, even in middle-of-the-night storms, even if you were somehow sound asleep, and pray the rosary. Aunt Jo prayed for protection from the storm; my mother said she prayed that Aunt Jo would not burn down the house with her blessed candles!
It got so dark that, even though it was midday, I turned the kitchen light on just to see. Our nearest neighbors are about 150 yards away, and it rained so hard that I couldn’t make out their house. The entire yard looked like one giant puddle because the ground just couldn’t absorb the pelting. This must have been the kind of rain that set Noah’s boat adrift. Although the weather person warned of the potential for a tornado, the wind only swirled for a couple of minutes and it never reached dangerous speeds here.
In the height of the storm, I was watching out the kitchen window that faces due west – the direction that the storm was coming from. It was at that point, when I could only see about thirty feet out into the yard, that I noticed the bumblebee clinging desperately to the window screen. It was looking wet and ruffled. There is a little overhang there and it served to protect the bee from the force of the huge pelting drops. There was little doubt in my mind that a direct hit would have knocked the bee to the ground where he would have had very little chance of survival.
The bee provided some distraction from my own concerns. It helps to think about others rather than stay fixated on yourself, even if that other at the moment is a bumblebee.
It was a mercy that the storm moved fast because much more water would have led to some significant flooding. As soon as the rain did slow and then stop – a true storm break – quick and decisive – that the bumblebee took flight for home, and I went out to see if there was any damage.
As I circled the house, I was thinking of the prayers that I had been praying. Some would say they went unheard, but I know differently. I won’t know this side of heaven to what extent the storm was lessened, but I know that it was. I was grateful also that the bumblebee helped to remind me to think of others, and that it had survived.