Well, well, well…. I think we earned our North Dakota entripid stripes –yes, Fort Yates is in North Dakota, so we have to earn our South Dakota stripes.
But OMG –last night… we went up to the casino to leave messages and stuff, and then we got on-line –and severe thunderstorm warnings were flashing across the screen…. But they were mostly to the west of us…
And, yes, I think the worst of it was to the west of us, but what we got was the worst I’ve ever seen from a tent. The lightening filled the whole sky, every part, and made it seem we were standing in broad daylight. It was massive light. I could see it through closed eyes…. In huge sheets and occasional branches emerging for a touch down.
And the thunder…. For forty minutes or so it was non-stop –continuous…. Without a break. It reminded me of being at my grandmother’s house and listening to the ocean –never stopping… except instead of the calming sound of distant waves, it was as though a herd of buffalo were running alongside and round the tent. I was sleeping on the ground, and I could feel the thunder. Shoulder. Hip.
And poor Mr. Witty, who has never much appreciated thunder any way, kept trying to get out of the tent. I told him it was worse out there –so he finally agreed to crawling down inside my sleeping bag and letting me hold him.
And, then there was the tick. In the midst of the lightening storm, I felt something crawling along my inner thigh. I ignored it, thinking it was just a thread from my pj’s, or my imagination… but when it started to pinch I pinched back and got the hard little thing between my fingers… and Mr. Witty didn’t want me to move, but I did any way, and with one hand opened the tent flap far enough to flick it out as far as I could –which wasn’t very far, but far enough.
And then the wind and rain came in on the thunder’s back… shaking and lifting the tent… like a plastic bag in the wind, except we didn’t get blown down the street –and the tent, mercifully, didn’t leak…. And at some point before the thunder stopped and the billowing let down, I fell asleep. Exhausted.
And so, this morning, like butterflies, emerging with our new thunder and lightening and wind and rain colored wings, we will drink coffee and praise God for our being this morning, and sing songs to the morning star and eventually throw sticks in the big water of the Missouri beside us for Mr. Witty, who is presently sitting, watching the far horizon, saying his own prayers… we think…. Cookies, we say in the midst of his faraway reverie… and he waits for the large heron to fly over, and looks at us as though he were saying, I know about all this stuff… I was there when it was all created… and then he rolls nonchalantly in the grass… who needs cookies when you can roll in the grass instead… --and the swallows dart and dive, dashing in their pink breasts and blue wings….
The script of God’s hand… all around us. Including the terror of last night… especially the terror of last night… the totality of the presence…. Amen.