To me, the sound of hail hitting the roof always sounded like someone was dropping bowling balls – loud and smashing, as a little boy, I was always fascinated by hail as it fell. We lived in South Carolina at that time, and hailstorms were frequent and heavy. I remember getting caught at the far edge of the yard when hail started one afternoon. By the time I had sprinted – probably world record speed – to the door, it felt like a dozen hammers were whacking me on the head and back. By the way, if you hadn’t heard, hail is hard! They are God’s ice cubes, except they fall from really, really high up in a cumulonimbus cloud (4th grade cloud physics). As far as I can surmise, hailstones serve no purpose in this world whatsoever, except to pound little boys on the head, and to fascinate people who watch the weather.
Indeed, when I was little, and the storms would come, as I watched from the safety of the living room couch by the window, I was always caught in that same fascination – it was an awesome sight! As I have grown older, however, unfortunately, I have become less in awe of those little balls of ice and how they fall, as I am more concerned about the financial damage they bring with their little hail tricks… this is especially true at this time, when we are lodging both sons in our basement, and that means four cars and a three-car garage. Since Cheri and I own three of the cars, and the fourth one is our youngest’s baby, guess whose car gets to be parked on the driveway, through freezing rain, blizzards, pounding thunderstorms, excessive heat, and yes, hail? It’s also true, now that we are homeowners, with a rather large roof, that the legend of hailstones taking out and destroying an entire roof is no longer captivating – it’s kind of the pits.
So, after a week and a half of pretty dry and hot weather, the whisper of the slight possibility of rain crept into the forecast, and then crept out again. I’ve mentioned before my reticence in cranking up the sprinkler system and pouring the equivalent of silver dollars over ungrateful grass, so imagine my delight when, after the threat of another 92-degree day, we could expect “heavy” thunderstorms overnight. Bring it on, I said – let it rain!
Late afternoon saw nothing – early evening witnessed the same drought. As the sun began to set around 9pm (we are living up north), still the grass and the patio chairs were bone dry. I went to bed a little later a bit disappointed. Around 2am, it seemed that the bolt of lightning has shot right through our bedroom window, and then a cannon burst of thunder followed! Yeehaw – we were going to have a rip-roaring thunderstorm! For a while, it was only the light and sound show, as the storm moved closer to our neighborhood. Next came the front edge, and the sound of the wind attempting to tear the branches off the trees. That’s not abnormal for Dakota winds – there is after all nothing to stop the wind for miles except a few well-wishing trees.
Finally, the sound I had been waiting for. It started hesitant, like a baby learning to walk, but then, it grew more and more confident, as the rain fell, and then, frankly, it just got arrogant. It poured with sheets and sheets of rain, peppered by lightning and thunder as the wind threw it all against our windows. I know it was the middle of the night, but it was like trying to sleep through the 4th of July fireworks show! Since most of the time, we only get separate cells of rain coming through, it was amazing to realize how long the rain was lasting, and how strong.
Then the beast appeared. Was it just heavier raindrops? Nope – I heard a distinctive thump on the roof, like Santa’s reindeer gone bad. It was joined by a few others, and then, as the rain stepped to the back of the stage, the spotlight fell on a million hailstones tap dancing on my little area of the earth. Actually, they were more like Irish cloggers, with rocks in their shoes. It would have been impressive if it hadn’t set my mind to that whole financial thing.
My first thought was the roof. It’s fairly new, and maybe it could withstand things – what was our deductible? Did I even know? Next, I thought of all the beautiful blooming plants, and how the hail would and could rip them to shreds, and end the season, at least. Rats. Finally, I remembered my car was parked out front. You hear a different sound when rocks of ice pound on sheet metal – it should be melodious, but it’s not. Lying there, I began to let me mind move into places it should not go at 2:45am. I don’t know who’s a good body repair shop – maybe the car dealer would know? Also, I have kind of a premium paint job on my car – a bright, shiny red color that gleams in the sun, and everyone likes. I really did not enjoy the thought of coming through all of this with a drab red leftover repair job… too late to run out and throw blankets on top, and I was not going to get banged with ice hammers at my age. Just let it pound, I guess, and we will check out the damage in the morning.
The rain returned, and the wind subsided, and in the relative quiet, I fell back asleep. As is always the case, Cheri is up very early, and when I got up, she reported that it all sounded much worse than it was. The plants were fine, most likely the roof was too, since the massive hail stones were really pea-size or less. The car just had a good wash is all. We ended up with more than an inch of rain in an hour, and more promised as today would unfold.
Sometimes it sounds much worse than it is. That’s so true. As much as we can imagine the most beautiful and wonderful things happening, we also have the ability to let our imagination run to those dark, foreboding, hailstone occurrences. It’s also true that once we start walking down that path, we tend to feed that beast – we tend to continue to expect the worst, and to bemoan our horrible lives, and how could it get any worse, but we know, of course, that it will…
I wish somehow that each of us would be equipped with a reset button. As we find ourselves falling deeper and deeper into what could be worse, or when we find ourselves aflame with anger and rage that is far beyond anything we have experienced that started it all, or when we even put on the clothes of sadness and depression, and can only hear the parts of life or the parts of our world that invite us to mourn our very existence – at that moment, how wonderful it would be to simply push the button, and not have it rewind, so we have to live it over again, but reset, so that from this point on, we might not live with the worst, but envision the best. That’s true with a hailstorm, and with a financial struggle, and with violence in our cities – and even with a pandemic.
I think, short of a button, the way we make that reset, is to remember. We must remember that the future, and indeed the present is in God’s hands. Instead of only seeing what bad there can be, we are invited to intentionally trust, and despite hearing hail on the roof, believe that it will all be well in the end. It will be well, and we will know that no matter what, God holds us and loves us in a powerful and significant way. Be the light to the world today.
Word for the day: gallivant. Gal-i-vant. Some words in our language almost act like living creatures, going through transitions and changes in definition and intention. “Gallivant” was another word used as a caution by my Dad, especially when we were setting up a campsite. When it was done, Dad would say, “Now, don’t go gallivanting all over the countryside – we’re going to eat soon, or do something soon together, so don’t go off on your own, with the possibility of either getting lost or getting into mischief…” Well, he didn’t say all of it – just the first part of the sentence, but the rest was understood. When we gallivanted, we roamed without a plan or a map – we just went to see what we could see.
However, that was a later definition of the word. “Gallivant” originally meant “to act like a gallant.” Sure. A gallant in later times meant someone who was a rover, a roamer, with wanderlust and the desire to see where the world would take him. This was a nicer definition than earlier. A gallant in the earliest use was someone who, well, liked to woo women, and all that might be involved in that. A gallant was a rogue, a womanizer, what we might call a jerk today, and deserved to be slapped. So of course, a gallant would go hither and yon to find a fair lass – probably out of the neighborhood. Interesting how definitions evolve. Perhaps most interesting is the way in which the word in French became completely the opposite. Someone gallant would be politely attentive to women. 17th century France. The knights were gallant, but only in the good way. It’s what you might call bleaching history. So, be careful in your gallivanting…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.