Last night, the name of the small town I live in was mentioned on the 2 of the broadcast TV stations in Little Rock. While this sounds like we have arrived into fame, it was actually this:
"Looks like that rotation is headed toward….Almyra."
That rotation? Well, that's the radar echo in a cloud that makes the weatherman think a tornado is either there or soon to be there. It's not a happy thing.
At that point, we decided to go ahead and get the kids up, move them to our bedroom, and watch to see what happened. Before that, just Ann and I were up and watching radar screens. Well, watching the internet posts of radar screens. We don't have our own weather radar though that would be awesome!
It's a debate for us how to respond to the storm warnings. We've both been here in the South for a long time, and we're kind of dull towards certain weather words because of it. "Tornado watch" and "Severe Thunderstorm Watch" are two of them. Why? They happen all the time. Seriously.
Here in East Arkansas, for example, we are either in high fire danger because it's too dry or under a tornado watch. I don't have documentation for that, but it seems true.
Even swapping Warning in for Watch doesn't get us as excited as it used to. There was a time that the weather people issued a warning only when there was visible evidence of a tornado. That required storm spotters and also delayed such things to the last minute. With technology improvements, now they can issue a warning based on radar and give people much more time to know a tornado is near them.
Except that system still warns entire counties. Arkansas County is over 1000 square miles (Rhode Island is a little over 1500 square miles). That's a lot of territory, and if there's a tornado moving in some parts of the county, it could still be clear in other parts! And yes, that happens. Not as much in this county because it's so flat, but there are counties in Arkansas where that's normal.
In truth, we don't really get excited about the storm systems until we hear Almyra from the weatherman. Or see for ourselves via BlackBerry, internet, or getting really close to the TV. It's just so normal for there to be storms around us, even destructive, killer storms, that we sleep through them.
What strikes me about this attitude towards the amazing power of wind and rain is that we so often have it about life. We see the destruction all around us, but we don't really take the threat to us seriously.
It's the refrain of the addict: sure, other people that do this have a problem, but I'm under control. It's not going to destroy me.
It's the refrain of those embarrassed to seek help: I know that depression is a real problem, but it's not a problem I have. That's a problem he has, she has, they have, maybe even you have, but it's not my problem.
It's the refrain of the lonely: true, no man is an island---but I'm strong and I'm fine.
It's the refrain of many of us: that rule may apply to life in general, but I'll find a loophole.
That watch, cautioning me to be careful of temptation, it's not that critical. That warning? That I'm detaching from the world and headed into the darkness of depression? That's just broad information.
We are often so proud, so certain that the problems are "over there" or "down there" that until it calls our name specifically, we take no precautions. We take no actions.
Consider yourself warned, though: the danger is real. The risk is there. It will call your name.
Are you prepared?
What can you do?
Have a safe place. Have safe people. Have a trustworthy God to call out to when the world breaks down.