“Hi hon, um if you get this message could you tell me what your radar is saying it’s doing in Ganado? I’m driving into what looks to be a wall of black and I can’t really pull up a radar to figure out if I should be worried.”
I should have been.
Seven miles south of Ganado, with Little Bit in the back seat watching 101 Dalmatians, the black disappeared and everything went white. As in white sheets of rain so hard I couldn’t see the two lane county road.
So we stopped the movie and I began to pray out loud.
Dear God, we know you watch over us. Would you help us here? Would you help mommy be able to see the roads? Would you help our car? Would you give us wisdom and calm? We know you work all things together for good, would you keep us in the palm of Your hand right now? Would you give us little spaces in between the sheets of rain to help mommy see the road?
In between those sheets of rain, I found a bit of a shoulder to pull over on with my hazards on. I turned around and little bit had fallen fast asleep. Gift number one. The boys wouldn’t follow on their journey from the ranch to Houston this Memorial Day for hours. I had to decide what to do. I looked around and all the roads and parking lots were flooded. If I stayed, my car would flood too. Just then, the last car in the line of six that passed me was a Jeep Cherokee with his hazards on. I pulled out and followed him the entire way from Ganado to El Campo.
Bray called. We were in the eye. It would go the distance to Houston. Roads were flooded everywhere and cars that gave up dotted the gas stations and shoulders of the road. At the intersection approaching Highway 59, I pulled off to gather my thoughts and keep praying. As the rain let up, I eased onto the terribly congested freeway. Bray called again. He didn’t spot a break. He asked me to be careful. I continued my 20 mile an hour pace up the road with the line of others in the same predicament. Nowhere really to hide other than in the cover of a faithful Father who hears our prayers.
As I passed through Wharton the alarms began sounding on my iPhone. Very dangerous. Tornadoes. I was still in the eye. Up ahead, blue green gray sky with finger clouds coming down in rotation. I called Bray yet again to find out which way was more dangerous. Do I turn around? Press on?
As I waited for him to check, I turned around. I took the first exit and made a fun picnic/bathroom break for little bit and me. He said I had just been right in the middle of it all. Sit tight for 20 minutes and then press on.
So we did. We had a picnic in the front seat with apple juice and gummies and peanut butter cookies, it was 3 pm by now and we’d left just after 11 am. Our two and a half hour trip. She was a trooper. When the clocked ticked 20 minutes off, she climbed in back and played music on my phone and I voyaged on. We turned on the radio and great songs about Jesus protecting us be-boped on the radio as we sang His name and kept up our prayers. My tribe of God-sized dreamers had been voxed around noon with a group message for prayer and those prayers rained in on us. Peace filled the car.
I made it to Houston at 4:15 pm. Five hours after I left the ranch. I saw the storm and survived it. Just as my iPhone alarmed again with flash warnings all around me for my town, so I prayed for all those Memorial Day travel warriors who were still enduring the eye of the storm. Including my men who were only just now on their journey.
This is what I learned:
1. Sometimes you are in the eye of the storm. You just are. There is flooding and lightning and tornadoes, and you just have to find the safest place to sit still.
2. Sometimes you are in the storm, but by showing your own warning signals, or by following someone else’s warning signals, you can make it out.
3. We are in this together. We all are, forward and backward, two steps ahead and three steps behind, and we keep each other out of the ditches. I stood in that little convenience store and we gathered in a line at the bathroom and we swapped stories. One just having come out of the storm armed with advice, one headed into it armed with an alternative route. That is community. Standing there, helping each other survive the worst of it.