Thunder caroms off the mountain, rattling down into our valley of Jacksonville, Alabama.  Our screened porch is my favorite friend in weather like this.  Mist lands on and around me, invisible yet perceptible to bared skin. Predicted severe weather has downgraded to heavy rains.  We welcome this rain, particularly to wash off a week’s worth of layered pollen that caked anything that didn’t move.

A strong line of storms marches through.  Only God could command a storm to remain in line. Like little preschool children obediently following the lead of their beloved teacher, the heavy clouds remain single file, perhaps holding a rope as they walk westward to their homeroom. 

Our yard is soupy.  Rain splats on mud.  Mossy sections saturated.  Earth cries out, “Please, no more!”  “It’s not time,” God replies.

Earth and God talk.  Created and Creator correspond.  I think God will have the last word.  As thunder again tumbles through the valley, I’m reminded that God also has the loudest word.  No sooner do I pen that last sentence but a hush falls.  Rain still descends, but no thunder.  It is a silence that still speaks, that holds my attention.  If thunder is God’s voice, silence is His body language.

More lightning all around.  If God is not bound by time, then to Him a single flash of lightning illuminates our community for a very long time; time for God to take a long, leisurely look around before clapping off the light. Is He using lightning like a baker uses an oven light, turning it on to check on the brownies or a batch of cookies?  Are we “done”?  Is it time to get pulled from this earthly oven?  He checks again with what – to me anyways – appears as a flash of light.  The rain and lightning continue.  Apparently the earth isn’t done yet.  We still need more time.  God constantly checking.

I forgot we had wind chimes hung in the corner of the screened porch.  I always forget, until a storm.  Wind chimes are silent, until moved to speak.  Perhaps this describes the call of an artist: silent until moved. Unnoticed in stillness, but beautiful companions in storms.  I think it’s a special gift, bestowed by the Creator, that enables an artist to bring beauty in life’s storms.

Lord, make music with this pen.  Blow, Spirit, blow.  Move my hand.  Write something beautiful despite my storm.

All these late-evening thoughts penned outside on our screened porch.  “Porch,” as in covered.  “Screened,” as in still vulnerable and exposed.

Isn’t this a Christ-follower’s life on earth?  Covered by Jesus, yet still vulnerable.  Mostly dry, and exposed to the itchy pollen of thickly layered deceptions.  Covered by Jesus, vulnerable to fluctuating temperatures, fickle seasons, pesky bugs.

And, just like this screened porch, Home is just a few steps away.  A Home still covered by the same Jesus, but where a screen door will be replaced by a Gate, far from temptations and storm systems.  And sprayed for pesky demons.  No lightning flashes; forever Bright.  A place where the Baker not only says, “done” but “well done.”  A Porch where the Spirit blows as unending wind that moves me to sounds of beauty.