Friday, August 26, 2011
Calm before the storm
It's hard to imagine that, within twenty four hours, dark clouds will descend, the waters will swell and completely flood the front of our yard and the winds will angrily swirl the air, lifting anything that isn't tied down and, even then, pulling shutters and siding off the side of the house.
We have been told to evacuate our housing complex by 5 PM today. I've done a load of laundry and am packed and ready to leave by 2 PM, heading north and west and inland to NJ to be with Ms. Conroy.
I have taken in most of the deck furniture and lashed what I couldn't move to the deck. I've moved the two huge trash barrels into the shed and secured the doors. I've unplugged electric clocks, and the microwave and will unplug the television set before I leave.
I'll also turn off the water and the AC before I leave and make certain, one last time, that all the windows and doors are as secure as possible.
I've gathered up the few photo albums and pictures we have here (the rest are still in storage) - along with insurance policies and important papers and documents - and placed them in the trunk of my car.
Oddly enough, I watered all the plants this morning. I always do on Friday morning. I found myself chuckling at the irony of my actions, talking to them and telling them that it is going to be okay.
I've helped a few of my neighbors who have come down for the morning to take their boats and "skidoo's" out of the water and lashed their furniture to their decks. Some are going to stay in hotels on Route One in Lewes because most of the motels on Long Neck and in the Route One corridor of Rehoboth Beach will also be closed. My neighbors want to be nearby on Monday so they can come back and assess any damage and begin any necessary repairs.
There has been a steady stream of boats by the house as people take them to nearby marinas for safe harbor. Some are waving and smiling as as they go by - one last fun-filled bravado before the retreat to safety.
And now, we wait.
This is the "calm before the storm".
Except, it's a rather strange calm. Certainly not the feeling one gets during or after meditation and prayer or a wonderful, relaxing full body massage.
Indeed, there is an odd odor in the air. Metallic. Electric. Acrid. Everyone is noticing it which just causes our brows to furrow a bit more deeply and look around more carefully for anything that needs to be lashed down or brought inside.
It's strange how things can change so quickly.
My 'Plan A' was to stay here and weather it out. 'Plan B' was to take a room for the night at the hotel up the street. I never intended 'Plan C' - to drive to NJ - but, bottom line is that houses can be repaired or replaced. Life is too precious not to protect at all cost.
Even so, in the midst of this "calm" I find myself wandering from room to room in the house. I've made lists of things I want to make sure to pack as I leave the house and I've brought them to a central place in the living room so I won't forget them. (Note to self: remember to pack your rain boots as you'll need them in NJ and may need them to get back into the house.)
As I wander about the house, I'm aware that I am touching things - the bed, the lamp, a favorite thingy - and I realize that I am saying a silent prayer over each thing, that these will all be here when I return - hopefully on Monday.
How odd to anticipate missing the collection of thingies I have around the house: The carved wooden purple tulips our friends John and Allen gave us as a house warming present 8 years ago. The carved wooden stool I brought back with me from Ghana 7 years ago. The table our daughter and son-in-law made for us with a tile top design of a Celtic tree. Ms. Manning's rocking chair.
I know that sounds a bit morose and not at all reflective of my normally upbeat, Ms. "Lemonade from Lemons" herself that I normally am.
And, you know, I will make lemonade from any lemons Hurricane Irene tosses at us. I would just rather not, thank you very much.
I think the anticipation of grief is sometimes worse than grief itself.
I must say that whatever "calm" there is comes from knowing that so many are holding us all in prayer - the way we have done for those deeply affected by tornadoes or earthquakes or hurricanes or mud slides or fires in other parts of the country.
It's not that I think God is wherever God hangs out saying, "Okay, okay. Got the prayers for Rehoboth Bay. Lay off that part of the eastern seaboard. And, please make sure no damage comes to Llangollen. There'll be hell to pay if that wee cottage is damaged."
It's the comfort that brings a sense of calm and peace that so much love and concern and prayer and positive energy is being directed this way.
My image of that kind of energy comes from an image I have of the cosmos. I see us all standing together on our own thread of an intricate woven pattern. Without prayer, I feel alone in the darkness. With prayer comes a light that shines in the darkness and I can see others standing with me and can reach out to hold their hands.
That image fills me with a sense of interconnection that is, inexplicably, comforting and calming.
In the calm before the storm, it is this image of the relationships we have that bind us together in an invisible network of prayer which brings me peace and a sense of hope. I understand, in the midst of the light that shines in the midst of that darkness that, no matter what happens, it will be alright.
I'm sure that makes absolutely no sense.
It's not supposed to.
It's the calm before the storm.