Thursday, June 2, 2011

tornadic activity

A refreshed and refreshing day today follows on the heels of a glowering, whistling, viscous and thundering afternoon yesterday. Inept television newscasters seemed to be wetting their pants at the discovery of the word "tornadic," which they repeated over and over again as a means of earning a paycheck and saying something important when they had nothing important to say.

Tornadoes did apparently touch down in Springfield and environs about 20 miles to our south. Four people were killed. A wider area suffered "tornadic" activity. On our street, people came out of their houses and grew closer in a mix of exhilaration and uncertainty. I joked with my neighbor Doreen that it might have been worse -- we could have had a trailer park nearby: Anyone knows that tornadoes seek out and destroy trailer parks.

Interesting how disasters and other exhilarations draw us closer and closer to the present. Without fear or favor they make a mockery of a past rooted in easy and assumed competence. Closer and closer to the present we are drawn until -- for better or worse -- we can do nothing but what needs to be done. And there is no room for "better" or "worse." There is no room for "we."

It is frightening to be left without handholds, but when tornadic activity claims the scene, it's more than houses and trees that fall. Assumptions are whisked away. The past no longer obtains. It is a realm in which Jesus Christ and all his angels cannot enter. And no one can produce a coherent news report.

In a refreshing and refreshed day, all that is left of a time when time had no meaning is a relief ... and yet too, there was really something more important than the fear of loss about it all. To be in the present. To find no handholds. Eeek and yum whisper from increasing distances ... basically we settle for relief and start rebuilding protective assumptions that, with or without tornadoes, cannot withstand the present.

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