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Thursday, May 28, 2015

He Felt the Glory, but Did Not Understand


He sat alone in the scrub grass and flowering weeds on the side of the hill. Further up, at the crest of the hill, was County Road 29; a metal guard-rail curved between the edge of the blacktop and gravel and the steep slope. Below him was the rocky shoreline of Cedar Lake. Men fished there sometimes, with their coolers of beer and lawn-chairs. But not today. Today a storm brewed over the waters. 

Already the wind was whipping the weedy plants around him on either side. He could smell their green and yellow scent, of pollen and spring, mixed with the ozone smell of thunderstorms. Out over the lake, heavy metal clouds hovered, silver grey-blue, like cobalt. He wondered for a moment how clouds so heavy could stay up. And then a thundercrack rocked the sky, jarring him. His teeth clamped down on his tongue and he yelped in pain and surprise. He spat and saw a bit of blood mixed with his saliva.


He’d come out on Country Road 29 on his bike, which was still where he left it-at the top of the hill, this side of the guard-rail. Now he wished he’d worn a jacket. Even if he ran up the slope and rode back towards home, he knew he couldn’t outrun the storm. And what was at home anyway? Nothing. Loss. Emptiness. He was going to be soaked and he didn’t care. At least, he told himself he didn’t care.

Thunder cracked again, not the sky-splitting, deafening, end of the world, apocalyptic boom as before, but loud and darting, seemingly without a center, without a point of origin. It came from all directions at once, from everywhere and nowhere, rumbling across the lake, echoing back and forth, up the hillside and down into the depths of his soul. A few small stones, loosened by the wind and the rumble, skittered down the hillside.

“What?” he asked, looking out over the white capped waves on the lake. “What do you want to say?”  He wasn’t sure to whom he was speaking. Was it God? Himself? The World? The great Whomever? It didn’t matter, only the wind answered him. Trees along the shore waved and shook in the gusts; leaves fluttered, battered in all directions. Some were carried up, others circled in fierce, demented eddies. And then the rain began to fall in hard stinging drops. “Tell me!” he shouted.  And the rain became a roar.

Lightning ripped through the darkened sky. And again, fiery flashing forks stabbing down from the clouds. A bolt ripped through a copse of oaks, mixing a shower of sparks and smoke with the falling rain. A thick branch fell to the ground, smoldering.

He should have been afraid. He knew that.  Somewhere deep in the primitive, limbic-system part of his brain, in the lizard-brain responsible for feeding, and fighting and fleeing, he knew that he should have been terrified. He was exposed. Vulnerable. Thunder bellowed from the sky, but he did not flinch.  Lighting struck again and again, but he didn’t even shiver. He stood up. His clothes were soaked through with rain, his hair matted down in disarray. He wiped the water from his face and raised his arms. “There is glory here!” he shouted. “Glory!” He felt it, but did not understand.

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