the storm again

Lambertville, NJ

Heather started her own blog recently. Here's her description of the other night:

Blessings in disguise come in odd packages. Yesterday, after a great visit with Paul's friend Tom in New Jersey, we were walking around eveningtime through a town where Paul had map-spotted two churches and a park as potential sleeping places. It was almost dark already when we came to the first church; by the time we had walked around its "campus" looking for good overhang shelter, finding none, and debating whether to go on or trust the cloudless sky, it was dark. We rang the rectory doorbell. A light came on in the hall. A crack opened in the mini-blind showing a pair of frowning eyes: "Whaddya want?" No sign of the door opening. Paul and I looked at each other and back at the eyes, wondering if we were really expected to shout our story through the door. Another moment, and the door-muffled voice added (I think): "We don't have any!" and a hand waved good-bye. I waved good-bye back. The debate was settled.

We walked on, down nice safe sidewalk under streetlights, not a bad way to walk at night. Paul didn't even need to put on his reflector vest [for walking on the road after dark]. Within twenty minutes we were at another church, with a lovely covered side porch; the "rectory" was unlit and apparently uninhabited, so we just settled in.

A car pulls up. "Looks like we'll talk to some people after all," says Paul, and wanders over to the back door where the car is parking. I follow. "Are either of you the pastor?" The couple laughs. "No, we're the cleaning crew!" We explain, ask if we can sleep there. They don't see why it should be a problem; they offer bathroom facilities, water, a rug they were about to throw out for an impromptu mattress pad—then a recommendation on a nice place for breakfast and ten dollars. Wow.

And then, as I tried to sleep, the wildest thunderstorm I have ever seen blew in.

Lightning, over beyond the trees; not five times, not ten times, not twenty or thirty. Constant, an every-other-second flicker I could have read by if I'd wanted to. Huge cracks of thunder that, two or three times—even though I was flat on the ground and felt perfectly safe—made that duck-for-cover spasm run through my body. And then, after an hour of this (and I honestly think that's a very conservative estimate)—the rain. It poured hard, so hard that tiny spatters reached us, and the river we crossed this morning was risen high, deep brown, carrying broken branches and a tall dead tree down its roiling current.

So thank God for the eyes behind the mini-blind.