For Lent I am adding the discipline of gratitude. Daily gratitude. And today I am thankful for storm shelters.
A storm barreled through our area this morning and the warning signals blared over our cell phones at 6:50 a.m., scaring the snot out of Jeff and Jackie. I was putting on makeup at the time and had one side of my face done. We turned on the TV to make sure the warning was real and heard that it looked like a tornado was hitting the area where my office is located.
So we grabbed our things and ran to our crawl space. Don’t imagine us crawling on all fours into a damp, dark, muddy space under the house. (Or do. Your thought life is yours to control.) Our crawl space has a full size door and we can walk right in. It is more like an unfinished basement with a very slanted floor. It is a nice place to sit out a storm even if we have to go out into the rain to get to it.
I noticed that Jackie had time to grab his computer and guitar. Great. If we were going to be stuck down there for a while we had entertainment. I sat in my lounger and couldn’t help but think that if our house blew away, I would be left with a half done face. I could be interviewed in the aftermath with a sort of Jekyll and Hyde thing going on. If I turned to one side I would look fabulous with great eye shadow and liner. If I turned the other way, disaster. Nobody wants to see that. So I had a choice. Go back up and finish makeup before the storm got too bad or plan to only allow news cameras to film from my right side. It was really raining so I decided keeping my right side to the cameras sounded doable.
Jeff and I have always had a place to ride out storms. Mostly basements. From Missouri to Minnesota to Tennessee, we have hunkered down and prayed and in many a shelter. It is as good a place as any to start Lent in a grateful state of mind. We were dry, together, and protected.
I did not grow up observing the tradition of Lent. We never discussed Ash Wednesday or Maundy Thursday or fasting or anything but Easter, eggs, candy, and baby chicks (I loved the ones that were tinted green or pink or purple—do they still do that?). I had heard of Mardi Gras but had not made the connection between that sparkly, inappropriate parade and Easter. I still have problems with that actually.
But as an adult, I have been officially introduced to Lent. I know people who “kind of” observe it and others who walk around with ash crosses on their heads. Some embrace it as a sacred duty to sacrifice for six weeks and others see it as a reason to party hard on Fat Tuesday.
I’ve come to think of it as a beautiful time of the year where I can reflect on how unfathomable it was for Jesus to march toward His death…for ME. Can you imagine that? Knowing that on a certain day you are going to die an agonizing death, knowing the time and the place, and knowing you have to go through with it? That you want to go through it? That the hope of the world is on your shoulders? That the people you are doing it for will stuff themselves full of food and sin on Fat Tuesday and show their boobs for beads? And still want to go through with it? I’m flabbergasted and thankful and humbled.
Last night I was meeting with a woman who volunteers a lot of her time at a food pantry handing out food to immigrants and underserved people in our area. She gives her life for these people. Her health has deteriorated, her family life suffers, her business has had to hire more help to make up for her absence. But she sparkled when she talked about loving on these people. She stressed how imperative it is for them to get these boxes of food once a month. It is vital to their existence. Most of them don’t know her name or speak her language. But she sacrifices for them anyway. She gives them pieces of her life. She shows love in ways that many of us will never have to experience. She is their storm shelter.
I am grateful for storm shelters. May I always have one and be one.
But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord , a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall, or like the relentless heat of the desert.
Isaiah 25:4-5 NLT