Monday, May 9, 2011

Tornado Dreams

I grew up in North Texas. Tornadoes were part and parcel of living in that particular area of the country. They were my greatest fear. They strike without warning and seemingly without any pattern to their movements. In a row of 14 houses, for instance, they might touch down and take down 5 houses, skip over the 6th, and take down 8 more. Unlike a hurricane, where there are usually days and weeks of warning and time to evacuate, a tornado gives people at most 5 minutes if that. Furthermore, unlike the mountainous regions of Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana which are so high up that tornadoes rarely have the ability to gain enough power to be a force to be reckoned with, it is rare to have a tornado strike in North Texas without death and destruction following in its wake.

When I was younger, tornadoes made frequent appearances in my nightmares. I would hear the howl and feel the winds, helpless in the face of imminent destruction. Sometimes the house I was sheltered in would be picked up and tossed around. Sometimes the things and people I loved would be sucked up and snatched away from me while I huddled helpless to stop the destruction. I would wake up from these nightmares with my heart pounding and my throat dry.

A few years ago, though, I noticed something. These dreams came but no matter how destructive the tornado might be in them, I always came out shaken but unharmed. I noticed that these dreams always came to me shortly before my life was turned upside down by circumstances outside of my control. I had them before my dad's death, I had them before my husband quit his job, and I had one more recently the day Randy lost his job at the radio station. I realized, when I noticed the pattern, that these dreams were God's way of letting me know that scary times were ahead, but not to be afraid because I would make it through them. Now, instead of frightening, I find these dreams somewhat comforting.

Two days ago, I had a tornado dream in which I was in my grandmother's house (a home she has never lived in) where I was visiting. Without warning, a tornado came. I was sitting on the couch by some windows when I saw it coming. There was no time for me to escape or anywhere for me to find shelter. There was nothing I could do, so I began to pray the rosary. The glass window panes on all sides of me exploded as the tornado struck the house, picked it up, and tossed it in the air with me in it like it was a child's play thing. I continued praying. The tornado set the house back on the ground and passed by. I was covered in glass. My arm was broken and the bone protruding, but I hardly noticed. I was alive. It's the first time I've ever been seriously wounded during a tornado dream, oddly enough. I don't know what's ahead. I suspect whatever it is will be harder than anything I've ever gone through before - and that's saying something - but, just like every other time, God will shelter me and see me through it.

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