Graduation Wrapped In Weather: Everyday Magic, Days 328-330

It’s hard to say where I’ve been, and so it’s hard to say where I’m going, but I know this: I’ve seen and am seeing some weather. My theory is that the combination of the rapture-ready folks, Oprah’s finale, karma, climate change and seasonal thunder (literally) all converged this weekend, spilling over into today.

To get more specific, the heat was on Saturday as we shlepped around Wichita, first getting thoroughly lost (mainly because I was driving while on the phone with Natalie and her airline). Turns out that a big storm in Minnesota blasted out some of Delta airline’s electricity, and Natalie was stuck for hours in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport with nowhere to go. Her early morning flight was canceled, she was sent home to try again on Sunday while my mom, Forest and I finally made our way to set up for Daniel’s graduation soiree at a friend’s house in Wichita. Within hours, Natalie called to say St. Paul was under a tornado watch, and then a warning. Being a Kansan kid, she went outside for a better view.

Fast-forward to later that night, an enormous amount of Lebanese food consumed by a herd of young adults, plus fascinating conversations on the state of the soul and the world (not surprisingly considering it was a party of Lebanese Orthodox, Evangelical Christians, Mennonites and Jews). We parked ourselves in hotel rooms in Northeast Wichita, turned on TV and computer, and voila! A line of very likely tornadoes was heading to our place in Lawrence. At the same time, Delta airlines canceled Natalie’s Sunday morning flight to watch her brother graduate, and Lady Gaga had a near nipple disfunction on Saturday Night Live. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

After getting to sleep very late (all that storm tracking, airline wrangling and Gaga gaga-ing, plus phoning and facebook-chatting with neighbors and friends to ensure our mutual safety), we watched Daniel graduate on Sunday. The humidity was up, the air was electric, and to the far east, we could see a very unusual storm, outrageously tall. We would find out later this storm was on its way to Joplin, MO. In the meantime, Daniel and 91 others marched through the line of faculty, sat in an orderly fashion, and listened to a fascinating graduation talk by a local girl who became a federal judge on the unpredictability of following your life’s work.

Afterwards, and in the days since, we’ve been on the phone and internet often, tracking storms past and future, and especially the loss of our uncle and aunt’s home in Joplin (walls still up, but rain coming in; deep freeze still standing but garage around it vanished).

While our son has graduated college — something beyond the beyond of what I could have imagined when he was flipping out one afternoon while in fifth grade — there’s no graduating from living in the real weather of our lives. Just this afternoon, I drove my mother to the airport through a panorama of blue sky, overcast sky, dark front of a storm, greenish spread of clouds and the consequent driving rain, wind, hail and lightning. Then I weeded a garden in the drizzle, quiet between storms.

Now I write in this compressed space while we pray for people in Oklahoma, and Southern Kansas, my son calls his friends in Norman to make sure they’re okay, and we get ready to make plans to go to Joplin to help our family. The heavens billow, the hail forms and drops, the ropey tornadoes land and widen…..or not. We talk about the weather not just because we lack imagination or when the weather is dramatic. The weather is metaphor for and literally our lives, where we live. Sometimes the weather of our lives just makes our lives show up more vividly.

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