Tornado Sirens

June 23, 2024 at 10:32 a.m.
photo credit: khawlacan
photo credit: khawlacan

By Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Rain beats against the windowpanes, and you could almost feel the thunder as it rolled over us in the thick fleecy sky, churning with power. The eerie screech of tornado sirens cut through the little town of Weston, Texas, undulating up and down in pitch and warning everyone to take cover. My mom was removing the cushions from the couch and tossing them into the bathroom. She shouted to us kids to wake up and get in the bathroom, but we were already up. My sister and I huddled together in our night shirts, shivering and whispering Hail Mary’s under our breath, thinking about what it would be like to have a tornado rip apart our house. Our older brother, however, ran outside into the backyard to get a better look. My dad chased after him, calling for him to get inside from the screen door in the pantry. I don’t know what possessed me, but I crept down the hall and slipped into the pantry behind my dad, a little room surrounded by shelves of canned food. He creaked the screen door a little wider and I saw a heavy greenish-black cloud hovering above. All three of us stared at the sky as a gust of warm air rushed over us, followed eerily by a swirl of icy air. The tornado had folded up into a cloud and floated over our house. We found out later it touched down a mile and a half away and destroyed a mobile home park.

I had always been afraid of storms, and growing up in Texas didn’t help as tornados were not unusual occurrences. Every time it started to rain, I’d get a thrill of fear and start praying that it would be over soon. That’s why today’s gospel has always been my favorite. Imagine not even being in your house during a storm, but in a boat on the sea. Mark describes it as a violent “squall.” So, it was a storm that must have cropped up suddenly with powerful wind spraying water into the air so that visibility was probably close to zero. The waves were so turbulent that they were breaking over the boat and the apostles realized it was within minutes of sinking. It’s almost funny that Jesus was asleep on a cushion. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” they cried. Notice, they didn’t say “Jesus, we are struggling here!” They said “Jesus, we are literally dying right now.” They were terrified. That’s when Jesus wakes up and rebukes the wind. “Quiet! Be Still!” Immediately, the wind dies down and Mark writes, “there was a great calm…They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

In another part of the bible, “Be Still” is followed by “And know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). There are many storms we experience in life, and we, like the apostles, might question where God is and if He cares. The storm might be an unexpected sickness, the loss of a job, many things going wrong at once, or even something normal like an overwhelming season in school. Sometimes it feels like “visibility is low” because we can’t see the way out or how long it will last – or what the next steps are. But just like in the Gospel today, Jesus is always nearby, and He shows us that He sees us and cares what we are experiencing. Even the wind and sea obey Jesus. If we invite Him into our situation (or like the apostles did – frantically scream to Him) He will take us by the hand and see us through the danger. He has the power to make order out of the chaos that rages around us and bring peace into every situation. There will be times when we ask for Jesus’ help, He will actually immediately calm the storm and make it disappear without a trace. And there are other times Jesus will simply give you all the strength you need to bail out the water and send a rescue ship to help you. But you are never alone in the storm. Jesus is right there with you.


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Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Rain beats against the windowpanes, and you could almost feel the thunder as it rolled over us in the thick fleecy sky, churning with power. The eerie screech of tornado sirens cut through the little town of Weston, Texas, undulating up and down in pitch and warning everyone to take cover. My mom was removing the cushions from the couch and tossing them into the bathroom. She shouted to us kids to wake up and get in the bathroom, but we were already up. My sister and I huddled together in our night shirts, shivering and whispering Hail Mary’s under our breath, thinking about what it would be like to have a tornado rip apart our house. Our older brother, however, ran outside into the backyard to get a better look. My dad chased after him, calling for him to get inside from the screen door in the pantry. I don’t know what possessed me, but I crept down the hall and slipped into the pantry behind my dad, a little room surrounded by shelves of canned food. He creaked the screen door a little wider and I saw a heavy greenish-black cloud hovering above. All three of us stared at the sky as a gust of warm air rushed over us, followed eerily by a swirl of icy air. The tornado had folded up into a cloud and floated over our house. We found out later it touched down a mile and a half away and destroyed a mobile home park.

I had always been afraid of storms, and growing up in Texas didn’t help as tornados were not unusual occurrences. Every time it started to rain, I’d get a thrill of fear and start praying that it would be over soon. That’s why today’s gospel has always been my favorite. Imagine not even being in your house during a storm, but in a boat on the sea. Mark describes it as a violent “squall.” So, it was a storm that must have cropped up suddenly with powerful wind spraying water into the air so that visibility was probably close to zero. The waves were so turbulent that they were breaking over the boat and the apostles realized it was within minutes of sinking. It’s almost funny that Jesus was asleep on a cushion. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” they cried. Notice, they didn’t say “Jesus, we are struggling here!” They said “Jesus, we are literally dying right now.” They were terrified. That’s when Jesus wakes up and rebukes the wind. “Quiet! Be Still!” Immediately, the wind dies down and Mark writes, “there was a great calm…They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

In another part of the bible, “Be Still” is followed by “And know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). There are many storms we experience in life, and we, like the apostles, might question where God is and if He cares. The storm might be an unexpected sickness, the loss of a job, many things going wrong at once, or even something normal like an overwhelming season in school. Sometimes it feels like “visibility is low” because we can’t see the way out or how long it will last – or what the next steps are. But just like in the Gospel today, Jesus is always nearby, and He shows us that He sees us and cares what we are experiencing. Even the wind and sea obey Jesus. If we invite Him into our situation (or like the apostles did – frantically scream to Him) He will take us by the hand and see us through the danger. He has the power to make order out of the chaos that rages around us and bring peace into every situation. There will be times when we ask for Jesus’ help, He will actually immediately calm the storm and make it disappear without a trace. And there are other times Jesus will simply give you all the strength you need to bail out the water and send a rescue ship to help you. But you are never alone in the storm. Jesus is right there with you.

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