Mother Nature has a way of reminding us periodically that she still rules the roost on planet earth. Her power to destroy in seconds what we build or create for decades shakes us to our bones. We accept a tornado here and a tornado there. It's part of living in Texas, although worse in other parts.
When I was a child in West Texas, seeing the sky turn ominous and finding our way down into the shallow earthen cellar was a common experience. We would huddle in a dimly lit, rudimentary storm cellar, big enough only for a few people, who had to sit down or crouch. A lone, low wattage light bulb dangled on a wire, unless power went out. Then it was darkness.
There always had to be at least one spider or other creature already in the cellar when we got there. We were listening, waiting to see if any tornado struck nearby, and to be out of harm's way below ground level should one hit. I remember being more excited than fearful. I don't recall being scared at all, even though I should have been. I was under five years old, so I was more likely to fear goathead stickers - which had stuck me - than tornados, which had not.
Nature can turn a gully into a raging river that sweeps away cars and people in them. It can create a wall of water in the ocean and destroy in seconds fifty years of modern construction. It can tear down bridges, rip up rail lines, reroute rivers. Nature sets the agenda. We live with it.
In recent years there have been earthquakes which have killed tens of thousands of humans. There has been a tsunami which took hundreds of thousands of lives. We wonder why nature is so cruel.
Nature is compelled to do everything it does, at the moment it does it. Nature has rules it must follow for the changing of H2O from a liquid, to a gas, to a liquid, to a solid, to a liquid, to a gas. Those acts occur under certain conditions, and our atmosphere functioning as it must creates our weather. Without weather being weather, without it following the rules by which it is bound, we don't have tornados, but we don't have spring rains, either. We don't have blizzards, but we don't have snow capped mountains providing communities for miles with fresh water.
It breaks my heart when I see the families who have lost members due to nature's sudden rampage. No amount of understanding the role weather plays in our lives can soothe the pain of those who have lost something more precious than any material item. We cannot fathom the hurt they feel, the sense of loss, the sense of "why me, Lord?"
I don't know the answers. I'm just a guy scratching my head again, trying to make sense of senseless loss. You can't replace a lost child. You can't replace a lost parent.
Tragedies like the tornado in Oklahoma remind us that nature can change things in big ways in an instant, and we can have almost no warning. They remind us to treasure what we have right now, to not take anything or anyone for granted.
© 2013, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org