Sunday, June 19, 2011

God is Bowling

The other night our household grew in excitement and anticipation of an impending thunderstorm which boldly announced itself via the internet, in full color, on Doppler radar prior to any of us hearing a single clap of thunder or witnessing a dark cloud. I felt I had a leg up on the rest of nature and proceeded to busy myself with all the necessary preparations which consisted of closing the windows in the car, close the porch umbrella etc. while Jeanine secured the windows in the house. As I moved the plants from the railing to the porch floor I noticed that the Robins, squirrels and chipmunks were also busy seeking shelter even though they did not have the advantage of the internet as I had. Somehow they received word ahead of me.

Jeanine and I settled ourselves down on the couch in the living room. I laughed as I watched the kids run around in excitement with Rebecca wondering if our porch umbrella would blow away and Daniel wondering if his strawberries would survive the storm. The afternoon sky had darkened quickly and I noticed James was becoming a little overwhelmed by the energy in the room and in need of some comfort. He walked over slowly and sat on my lap and said “ Daddy is lightning going to hit our house”?, “How many times have you been hit by lightning?”, “Does it hurt?”, “How loud is it going be?”. I held him tight and told him every time he sees a flash he will have time to cover his ears and the lightning is far, far away. The sky darkened due to both the forthcoming storm and approaching night. After the first flash there were many seconds before we heard the distant clap of thunder and James said “That wasn’t too bad” as I felt his grip ease up on my arm. We experienced subsequent flashes and the kids were enjoying the show of dancing shadows on the ceiling. As I watched with them these lightning flashes lit up my memory as vividly as they lit up the room and took me back to a time when I was young and was crunched down below the window with my siblings watching the silhouette of the trees against a grey sky as a thunder storm approached. Looking for a little reassurance I asked my dad if he was afraid and he said: “No, the sound you hear is just God Bowling”. Although, I don’t think, at the time, I bought into the whole belief that there was a bowling alley in heaven, it did distract me for a while and I found comfort in trying to imagine if the sound of the rolling thunder was similar to that of a bowling alley. I remember thinking how brave my father was and I asked my dad if he was scared of thunder storms when he was little and he shared with me a story about when he was young. As my memory intensified due to the catalyst of the storm I could now vividly see my own father sitting in his chair. I recalled every word as he recounted a moment in time when he was growing up and a storm was approaching. He told me that as a young boy he would be woken up by his father, if he was sleeping, and would gather on the stairs between the first and second floor, with his mother, father and two brothers, and pray several “decades” of the rosary until the storm passed over. This would often last for hours. He described the terrible cramps he would get in his legs from having to sit still for long periods of time. In those days they were taught to fear thunderstorms and would relive each lightning strike in detail, with his friends, the next day at school.

Just then a clap of thunder startled me back to the present. James held me tight again. Daniel and Rebecca looked towards me for reassurance that everything was fine. Rebecca asked me :”Dad were you scared of thunder when you were little”?. I said “I was a little but I found out that it was just God Bowling and so it didn’t bother me as much.”

“… and so it goes” Over the years I have grown to enjoy thunderstorms and viewed them as a sign of summer and remembrance of a time I spent with my brother and sisters staring out the window wondering if a tree would fall. Every flash of lightning would light up the room and simultaneously bring back a memory of my past (and my father) as I am sure it did my father as he told me of his experiences as a youth.

Memory Eternal on this Fathers day.

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