Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Enjoying the Wait (with tornado warnings)

Years ago, while traveling in an RV across the country, we found ourselves on a major highway going west headed into tornado warnings.  The winds were very strong making it necessary to pull off into a rest area.  Looking around it was really quite daunting.  There was one lonely farm house off in the distance in a vast plain stretching to the horizon in all directions.  Ahead down the highway there was strong evidence of everything needed for a tornado to form.  The road going the other way was across a median too challenging for our RV to cross.  I can still see the place quite clearly in my mind.  Had there not been the fear of  being hit by a tornado, it was quite lovely and secluded with the last rays of the orange glow of sunset to our left and an intense dark sky in front of us.

My children were young. There was only the restroom building in which to hide, if there was a need.  In the dark with a storm brewing ahead, it was very frightening.  I had seen the aftermath of a tornado's work in another part of the country, including pieces of objects hurled into and sticking out of trees.  What was the "smart" thing to do? Hide out in a restroom?  Stay in the RV and hope for the best?  Due to several circumstances, it seemed wisest to stay in the RV.  So I tucked in the kiddos, and we all tried to sleep.

For me, it turned out to be a wonderful, restful night, one I recall all these years later with great joy.  I felt as if we were being rocked to sleep in a giant cradle.

How did that happen?

I changed how I thought about it.  I knew there was a possibility that there was tornado coming.  I knew what that could mean for us sitting as we were in the middle of flatland.  But I also knew that either it would hit us or it wouldn't, there wasn't a thing I could do but wait, and how I waited was up to me.  So I decided to enjoy the wait.  The wind was strong enough to rock the motorhome. Once I took away the fear it truly felt relaxing.  When I thought of it as God rocking me to sleep it was utterly peaceful.

I could have had a hellish night and worried myself sick waiting to see what would happen.  But changing my perspective made it a restful, peaceful night. Would I have turned around and headed in the other direction if there had been a way?  Yes.  Did I think it wise to continue going forward into the storm?  No.  The decision to stay in that rest area seemed the wisest of available options. But after making the wisest choice, the best decision I made was to relax and enjoy the wait instead of being afraid.

I have thought of this many times since.  Waiting can be a miserable experience when one feels there are a choice of outcomes, and at least one of them would be horrible.  But if we think of now-- this very moment-- and we live in this moment with what is present, it is surprising how pleasant this moment can be. And if the thing we greatly feared comes upon us, we are likely to be better prepared for it, better able to deal with it having had those moments of rest and peace during the wait.  If it never comes, we didn't waste our "now" worrying about it.

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