When the Lightning From Storms Frighten Me

Dearest Readers:

Although someone might say it isn’t early morning, for me it is since I slept fairly well last night. Crawling out of bed just before 9:00 am, I yawned, stretched and was thankful for a bit of sleep.

Today Phil and I will go shopping. Seems he wants to go to Tanger Outlet. So, I suppose I’ll drink another cup of coffee, just to get me going!

Last night, we had another band of those dreadful storms we’ve been having lately. Driving in my car, every time I saw the lightning flash, my body jumped.

Why am I so frightened of lightning, you might ask? Allow me to explain. When I was a child, I recall my mother telling me if I did not behave…IF I wasn’t a “good girl,” God would send the lightning after me. I remember her saying, and I quote: “If you don’t behave God is gonna strike you dead with that lightning.”

Every time there was a storm with lightning, I would jump. Mama would laugh at me and say: “You’re such a stupid girl. God don’t love ugly and that’s why He sends the lightning to you. He wants the lightning to hit you. God don’t love ugly and you are one ugly thing. I hope God strikes you dead!”

I was the middle child. One of my sisters was quiet. Timid. She never questioned authority. The other two – I’m still not certain. Let’s just say, our childhood was not the typical childhood of four daughters.

As for me, I was boisterous. When I entered a room, I made an impression. Good or bad…I’m still not certain. I loved to hop on stage and let the world know I was around!

Once, while walking home from the library in Atlanta, Georgia, a summer storm horrified me. I saw the lightning flashing. I remember rushing. Running. I had to get home to get inside my closet so the lightning could not find me. I was horrified!

Arriving home, I grabbed a towel to dry my hair and face and I rushed into my closet, shutting the door tightly.

Stopping at a red light last night, Phil saw me jumping when the lightning flashed. He asked me why I was so afraid.

“Haven’t I told you what my mother did to me as a child and as a teenager?”

“What?” He asked, turning the radio down so he could hear me.

“When I was a child, my mother told me I must always be a ‘good girl.’ She said IF I wasn’t a good girl, God would send the lightning down to strike me dead.”

“Did she do that to your sisters?”

“I don’t know. We never discussed it.”

Although I have three sisters, I do not recall if we ever discussed the cruelties of our mother’s poisoned, venomous tongue.

I suppose even though I am now grown and smart enough to know her words were cruel, I should also know God isn’t a mean power. He is my strength. My faith. He is the power who made me what I am today.

God would never want anyone to be struck by lightning. Storms are simply storms, filled with energy, rain and power — but of a different kind.

How I wish I could get over my fear of lightning, but I suppose I will never accomplish that. All of my childhood, I was frantic. When friends would say they love to see the flash of lightning, I cringed. My body shook. My hands and legs trembled. I gasped. Sometimes I screamed. Lightning is bad. It’s gonna strike you dead!

As a newlywed, and years later, each time the lightning flashed at night, it would awaken me and scare me half to death. I wear a sleep mask now, to help keep the lightning away. Sometimes, I wear two sleeping masks, just to keep me safe. Yes. I know. It’s silly. After all, the lightning is only lightning. It reminds me of a mad, vicious animal, growling, searching for its next prey — ME!

Once I asked my mother why she said such cruel things to me about the lightning. She laughed, a cruel, vindictive laughter. I left the room. I knew she would never explain.

Today, more storms are forecast. If they occur, I will close my eyes and try to tell myself: this is only a storm. It will not hurt me. I will be fine.

Looking out the window, while writing this, the skies are thick with a blanket of gray. Treetops are moving, dancing the breath of an approaching storm. I do not hear thunder, nor do I see lightning. I’m hopeful we will have a rain storm. Nothing more.

Although I will see more lightning when these torrential storms arrive, I will remind myself that the approaching storms are not to harm me. The rains water our gardens. The breezing winds give us a bit of coolness after we’ve had such a hot summer, filled with sauna like temperatures. As for the lightning, for me, all it creates is a VIOLENT  energy. Sometimes a wicked energy. I can still hear my mother’s sharp tongue. Her cruel words. “You’re such a bad girl, and God don’t love bad girls. He’ll send the lightning to get you. You better be a good girl.”

Maybe I should’ve asked my mother: Just what do you think a good girl is? I’m a good girl. I obey you. I do as I am told. I don’t do drugs. I go to church and in school, I get good grades and I behave. Why can’t you see I am a GOOD GIRL! I’ve never gotten into any trouble – EVER! I’m a GOOD GIRL!!!

The winds are blowing harder now. My mimosa trees are dancing a soft ballet of motion, swaying ever so elegantly to the left and right. The grass is so tall it needs cutting again, and we cut earlier this week. No doubt there will be another storm today. I suppose I shall pray once again: Dear God. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead like my mother wished when I was a child. Please keep me safe.

Glancing out the window again, the breeze is still. The mimosa trees are hardly moving. The skies still thick with the blanket of storms anticipated. Another day of ‘the calm BEFORE the storms.’

Dear God. It’s me again. Barbie. Please. When the storms arrive, and the lightning flashes, please remind me that you will keep me safe. Please don’t let the lightning strike me dead.



Happy Easter

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dearest Readers:

Today is Easter, so as the tradition goes, I would like to wish all of you a most Happy Easter. The religious holiday of Easter is early this year. Normally, I look for it after the warm spring holidays begin. For this year, in the Holy City of Charleston, SC, we haven’t had many warm days this month. Most days, the mornings were chilly where you needed to wear a sweater or jacket in the mornings, and sometimes, throughout the day. Our spring fling hasn’t begun. This morning, I awaken to 61 degrees outside. Hello Spring Time! Pouring a fresh cup of coffee, just to awaken, I saw the morning sunshine in the midst of dark clouds. The weather forecast for today is rain, and now, as I look outside my windows while writing this, I see only gray clouds, darkness, and I believe I hear raindrops. But it’s Easter, you say…the day for me to wear my Easter bonnet and “Sunday best” just for Easter….

Easter is the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Christians believe (and I am definitely a Christian) that Jesus was crucified for our sins. Burying his body in a large cave, a boulder blocked the entrance. According to traditional stories in the Bible, and beyond, on Sunday the entrance to Jesus’ gravesite was open and “Jesus has risen!” was discovered by a few women, including the Virgin Mary.

As a child, I was taught to celebrate Easter, like most children are taught. Living in a mill village for many of those years, my family did not have the money to splurge on Easter bonnets, frilly dresses, and pumps and Easter baskets. Our grandparents catered to the four girls in my family by buying us these pretty items. So, on Easter Sunday, I made certain I was dressed to impress in my Easter dress. I’ve always enjoyed dressing lacy and glitzy, so Easter Sunday was a day I wore my new dress until the evening. Colorful bows, matching my outfit were worn in my hair. I wanted to shine! Easter Sunday, my family went to church and if my memory is correct, we celebrated an Easter feast at the fellowship hall of Beallwood Assembly of God Church. After we ate, the Easter Egg Hunt began. I did not wish to get myself dirty, so instead of looking for Easter eggs, I spent time with the boys. Imagine that!

Today, I will have a quiet Easter with my husband and neighbors. Since 2010, there has been a new tradition in our neighborhood with one of our greatest neighbors inviting us to an Easter feast with the neighbors. I look forward to seeing all of them again, enjoying a quiet, relaxing Easter day celebration, while remembering why the world celebrates Easter.

To all of you reading this, I hope your Easter is filled with the traditions of the season – the belief in Christianity, the Resurrection of Christ, the symbolism of life and death and the passing into a new divine life. As for traditions, may you enjoy the traditions you practice with your family and friends. May you feast on lamb, baked ham, and all the delicious foods of Easter. May your children find the Easter eggs while enjoying all the goodies the Easter bunny gave them. Still, I reflect on the Easter holidays I celebrated with my grandparents and the traditions they instilled upon us, their bratty, spoiled granddaughters. My grandmother truly believed in spoiling us, while teaching us about religion and the power of faith. Grammy taught me wisely, as I watched her actions. My belief in the power of prayer is a credit to her and watching her bowing at her knees, while looking up into the sky as she folded her hands and prayed for God to help her with the burdens in her life. Sometimes, I listened to her praying, hiding behind a curtain so she could not see, or hear me. Once, she caught me. When she asked why I was hiding I looked up at her, tears dripping down my face.

“Grammy,” I said…”I was listening to you praying. I wanted to know why you are so sad and praying all the time.”

“I have a burden. God listens to it. He will help me with the burdens I have.”

Now older and wiser, I understand a bit about her burdens. Our family life was not a happy time. Now, as I look back, I feel blessed that I had such a significant role model within the hands, faith and body of my precious grandmother. She instilled in me the power of prayer, and the belief that God is always listening to us, hearing our burdens, while at times, He may test us, just to see IF we still believe.

On Easter Sunday 2013, I will say, I still believe. I have faith. I have strength. During my lifetime, God has guided me during times of trouble, and during times of sheer faith. I hope your Easter Sunday will be blessed. Please take a moment to look up into the skyline, even if it is laced with gray clouds and raindrops. Look at it this way. The raindrops are washing the blanket of pollen away, along with the cleansing of cobwebs from our minds. Today, Easter Sunday, is the day to believe that there is a new day blooming inside of us. A new chapter, or a new journey in our lives may start today. Have your faith. Dress your finest, share those beautifully decorated Easter eggs with your children and loved ones while knowing Easter Sunday is truly symbolic — a new beginning, on a new horizon! Happy Easter!