Shelter….A short story.

The dark clouds rolled into town and filled my heart with an overabundance of dread. The emerald green leaves of a long, overdue spring seemed to grow darker as the storm approached.

“Jeez, another storm. We’ve already doubled our annual intake of rain. How much more are we going to get?”

My head ached from the high pressure of the storm. I rubbed my head and then my eyes, as my sinuses throbbed in pain. Normally, sunset came around 1930. With the dark clouds and tempest winds, the night loomed in the shadows at 1800. A gale of wind slammed my rocking chairs into the wall of my cabin, the thunderous crash of chairs toppling over gave way to an eerie silence. In the distance, I could hear a train coming.

“Wait a minute! The nearest tracks are miles from here!”

I peered out my window and watched the funnel of the tornado touch down in the trailer park up the road from where I lived. Flustered, I grabbed my flashlight and raced to the storm shelter. The winds battered me as the tornado sent debris into the air. Gripping the handle, I flung the door open and slammed it shut behind me. I clicked the button on my flashlight and the small shelter was flooded with light as the beam chased away the darkness.

Outside, the winds kicked it up a notch, and the wooden door shimmied with the force of the gale. I pulled a chair over to the wall and sat down. It may seem stupid, but in this shelter all alone, my thoughts turned to God.

“Lord, I know it’s been a while since you heard from me. I’m sorry. Things have been kinda crazy. What with the virus and no job, I suppose I could come up with a million excuses why I ain’t talked to you. Truth is, I got mad.”

The storm continued to pound at the door, and I decided to say a few other words of prayer. My words and the emotions I felt seemed to be in a battle for dominance. Finally, the words found a way out.

“I guess I’ve got too much pride. Losing everything I ever worked for was a cruel blow, now this idiot storm is threatening to take what’s left of my earthly possessions. It ain’t your fault I reckon. I just can’t keep my head above water. Every time I catch a break, another catastrophe occurs. Momma always said there would be days like this, but she never said they would go on for years.”

As I talked to my Maker, the winds died down and rain slammed against the door. Soon, it was rain mixed with hail. I leaned back in the chair and waited for the storm to pass. As a young boy sitting on a pew in Sunday School, the preacher man would say you have to thank God in the hard times, as well as in the good ones. My eyes had water in them, so I wiped at ‘em with my hanky.

“Well, Jesus. I gotta say thank you for blessing me with life. If I do lose it all again, I can rebuild. I reckon there’s no limit on rising from the ashes. However, if in your infinite wisdom you decide to take my stuff from me, help me to accept it with grace.”

As I sat in that shelter, it slowly dawned on me the rain had passed. I pushed the heavy wooden doors open and I surveyed the damage to my property. Trees littered my yard. Someone’s cow stood in my front yard looking bewildered. Slowly, my neighbors and I emerged from our storm shelters and took in the carnage. My cabin still stood; the only damage was to my rockers. They were broken and scattered in pieces across my yard.

Some of my neighbors were less fortunate. Bob Jones stood in his yard, one hand on his hip, the other on top of his head.

“Bob, y’all okay? Can I do anything to help you?”

Bob Jones is a rail thin man. Bald headed, he keeps his hair cut like Friar Tuck from Robin Hood. His eyes are beady, his nose hawkish, and his mannerism poisonous. Now, he appeared to be in shock.

“Hey, Freeman. The wind threw a tree through the living room wall. I don’t know how I’m gonna get it out of my house.” He shrugged and shook his bald head.

“I’ve got a chain saw Bob. I’ll come help you cut it up and we can take it off to the dump in my truck.”

“How much are you gonna charge me?”

“Nothing Bob, it’s what neighbors do. I will be over in the morning.”

Bob nods, and I walk back to my house. As I walked down my driveway, I talked to the Lord. Of all the people in our community, few of us escaped unscathed.

“Lord, thank you for keeping your hands on me and my community. It’s bad, but it could be much worse. I reckon, it’s my time to pay it forward.”

As momma would say, “it can’t rain every day.”

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