May is a busy, spring month. Along with Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, there are weddings, graduations, reunions, and birthdays. But May often brings a little more than “sunshine” when you live in tornado alley.
When I was young and attending my older brother’s high school graduation, someone suddenly announced there was a tornado coming our way. The gymnasium, where the service was being held, was quickly evacuated. Living in a small farming community, we had a huge cellar on school property where people could take cover.
That night, it was almost a fun event to join my friends in the cellar. We scooted toward the back, away from adults, to talk and even play games. Our mothers sat toward the front, saying prayers and discussing recipes by the light of coal oil lamps.
There were no sirens to alert folks or meteorologists to follow storms, so the men stood outside watching the clouds. They learned at a young age to predict weather patterns. I remember many “middle of the night” runs to that community cellar, which was open to everyone, with Daddy driving wildly over dirt roads while Mama described low hanging clouds.
But this night, as we sat in the shadowy darkness of the cellar, someone outside yelled, “There’s a tornado!” To my surprise, several people inside the cellar ran up the stairs and outside to get a look at the phenomenon rather than curl up in a corner for safety.
Of course, our moms stayed put with the oil lamps and refused to let us kids go out the door. Then within minutes, all those who had run up those steps were quickly back inside, along with the men, as the storm roared past without damage.
I’m not a fan of tornados. That’s why I have a safe room and a generator. But on stormy evenings I sometimes miss those long ago nights when dozens of friends gathered together in that old community cellar. It was like a mini reunion with each family being welcomed inside. Their laughter and love melted my fear, and the Lord always kept us safe!