Sometimes the only thing that seems appropriate is a thunderstorm. We are experiencing just such a thing right now up here in our hilly region of Michigan.
We used to live in Ohio...the flat part of Ohio that is. The first storm we experienced up here was more than a little unsettling. The thunder doesn't clap and boom and explode the way it does when you live on flat land. It rolls. Rolling thunder. It starts in as a low growl and slowly rolls up and over itself until the undertow draws it back to the steady drone that tends to make itself our soundtrack for entire nights once it shows up.
I woke to its menacing vibration a month or so after we moved here. I'd never heard rolling thunder before. I woke Oliver up.
"What is that noise?" I asked him.
He jolts awake and grabs the bat assuming his "do not mess with my family" persona. I always feel safe when Oliver is around.
We stay silent and listen to the rumble. We wonder: Tornado?
No, it's not a tornado. We listen to the rise and fall, the auditory sister of the lake's waves only miles away.
As we slowly began to accept that this was thunder here, our new thunder, Oliver drifted off to sleep. I lay awake, not sleeping well for the rest of the night. I kept waiting for the thunder to spend itself with a soul wrenching crash. I kept waiting for the storm to wage its fury on us, but instead it rolled on and on and on; not gentle by any means, but never giving over to the rage to which I was accustomed.
All that night I lay feeling dissatisfied, smolderingly angry, really. Eventually the thunder dissolved away as the storms here seem to do. It lacked closure, like the storm hadn't confronted itself or the cycle it was a part of. It just sort of kept pace. I wouldn't accept it. It was a calculated, tip-toeing storm, and I did not want to be near it. Just rage and get it over with, I thought.
Tonight, I didn't notice that the thunder was rolling until I started writing about it. This rolling thunder has woven it's way into my fabric of being. It has taught me that, in fact, it is not disingenuously calculated, rather it is steady, it does not tip-toe, it simply has mastered the art of allowing.
The ebb and flow is an aspect of living. There is no getting around it, and floating amongst the waves is not weak. There can be a time for rage, for crashing and banging and great big releasing, but there is no shame in allowing a slow steady, anchored release. They are equally valid methods of weathering those periods when different aspects of ourselves are charged in opposing ways creating a storm within. One is quick, fierce, striking, and frightening; the other is slow, measured, and utterly painful to bear--like childbirth. We need both. Or at least I do.
For the last year, I have spent intimate time with the rolling thunder that threatened to shake me right off of my foundation. The steady rumble lasted so long that, in fact, the house of cards other people built for me came crashing down bringing me right with it. Fortunately, I've been doing my own building these past years. Just as soon as I stopped trying to save the old, useless dollhouse, I leaned into trusting that there was something real for me already in place and allowed the cards to fall, and then....well, it was like magic. Painful magic.
Every card has a face, a memory, or an object stamped on it. Some have been excruciating to send to the compost heap, and that's not drama talking. With every card that fell, especially those big, difficult ones, I could see more clearly what I'd been building for myself. Four months ago, I thought I was walking on the edge of losing everything I've worked for, i.e. my sanity. Now I know that I simply needed to take time to let go of everything else. I was not prepared to rage last year at this time, or even four months ago. I needed the steady shaking apart of the shelter house that had been stunting my growth and blocking my vision, all while charming me with the empty promise of safety from all the things that frighten me.
For the last three weeks, though, I have raged against the ugliest, most difficult parts of that card house.
Think primal roar. And devastating grief. Finally, the bare bones of emotion that I've been wrestling with for a long while. Cycle those two endlessly, and that has been my month of April.
The perfect recipe for a rip-roaring storm.
And you know what happened after I wrote this last night? A big bang crashing Ohio style thunder storm, and a whole lot of release.
Who would have thought?
Anyone else getting shaken up out there?
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.