Above the Storm

When we encounter a storm, it is either above us, about us, or, of course, within us. Seldom below us.

I recall one vivid experience of the last instance, when I was actually above it all. It was a long time ago. I was taking my five-year-old daughter to see her grandmother in Britain.

The night before our departure from Toronto, our home had been beset by winds and rain of almost hurricane velocity. The storm was so intense that we half expected our flight to be canceled. But the downpour, the lightning, crackles, crashes, and booms all vanished in the morning, and we found the flight was still scheduled.

We took off through heavy cloud cover. Then we experienced that beautiful breakthrough into blue sky and sunshine that never ceases to delight passengers, however often they've flown. This was Kristen's first journey by air. She sat in the window seat, clutching my hand, her eyes alive with light.

In no time, we were above Montreal on our flight path to Prestwick, Scotland. We were still climbing when the pilot informed us of our whereabouts and of a storm over Montreal. As we looked down, there it was: going on in unbelievable miniature. Far, far below us, we detected the action of that violence as a distant dark puff of cloud shot through intermittently with tiny flashes that looked like the final flickering of a child's sparkler.

I was struck right then by how relative storms are. The little girl at my side must have remembered her tears at nature's bombardment the night before. But now I could see the dominion in her shining face.

"That's all it is!" she said, pointing. For her, it was the same storm in memory and reality.

This time, though, we were far above it.

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