There's an odd dichotomy that comes with a thunderstorm. It reaches into the soul of a person in a few different ways. There's the soul that approaches dark clouds and lightning and the boom of thunder with great trepidation and fear; death being an all-too-real possibility, regardless of the shelter one finds themselves in.
The rush to the lower level of a structure, the scramble for flashlights and candles and do we even have batteries for said flashlights or lighters for said candles? There's the gathering around a TV for local meteorological updates, now down-to-the-minute warnings as to when a red and yellow (God forbid purple) blob will approach your very own community. "This storm is slated to hit Woodruff and Pauline at 7:07, downtown Spartanburg at 7:12, and be in Boiling Springs around 7:18. This is a fast-moving storm. Seek shelter if you reside in any of these areas."
There are the storm chasers. The crazed-weather aficionados who only venture out in skies of turbulent chaos. Like the movie that captivated us in the late 90s Twister, those thriving on severe weather like a drug, searching the rush a tornado warning brings.
Then poets, those who find not so much a love of danger, but the beauty in it all. Because threatening skies never look so hauntingly gorgeous as when they sit motionless atop the Atlantic Ocean. Lightning like blistering blood vessels spider-webbing across a Texas sky. The way thunder groans and echoes in the Smoky Mountains, daring anyone to challenge its presence.
I've witnessed the primal perfection of a storm, one that throws branches from trees like splinters fresh from the skin. How rain can wash away banks of rivers and roadways and flood a field into a near disaster scene. Lightning flashing so frequently with blinding brightness you'd swear daytime was just tired of giving way to night and wanted to stick around a bit longer.
But the inherent beauty in a storm exists because there is that danger. Because there are stakes. Because if you venture out into the storm, the wind may blow a towering pine onto your vehicle and flatten you like a pancake. A streak of lightning, rare the chance may be, could zap you clear into expiration. Rain could fall with such ferocity that your car and house and all your possessions could float away into the next town over, only to be discovered by someone who's left to clean up the soggy mess of your belongings.
We watch storms out of fear and curiosity. With anxiety and reserved excitement. The reality is days filled with sunshine bore us, peaceful as they may be. We need to know the clouds could overtake the sun, even for a moment, and give us minutes or even hours of excitable consternation, poking our neighbors and asking "Are you alright?" and "Did you see that?" and "looks like we could get some bad weather later on."
Maybe storms, if nothing else, give us something to talk about when conversation runs dry. When politics and religion reach their breaking points. There is no controversy with weather. Only facts. Cloudy and rainy, sunny and calm. When all else fails, there is that: weather. Randy Travis once said it in a song..."Just like old men sit and talk about the weather..." It is a fact. A sure thing. Weather is essential to a conversation.
And of course, with every storm, every jaw-dropping lightning strike, each eye-popping roar of thunder, there is this: a possibility of rainbows. My daughters love that more than anything.