This week has been a bit, well, portenty; omenfull, as it were. If I were of a nervous disposition, I might be getting a little bit jumpy.

It started on Tuesday, with the purchase of not one but two temporary drivers’ packets for not one but two teenagers. “God bless you,” vouchsafed the lady behind the counter in a hushed voice; by her tone, she might as well have been crossing herself.

Sure enough, as I took the younger one out for his first ever go behind the wheel, the earth was shaken from the east coast to downtown Cleveland.

The next day, we saw the destruction of cars and buildings from Germany to New York, rubble and broken glass laying abandoned in the street, and yellow caution tape. We’d been expecting it: after all, we had gone on purpose to see the set of the Avengers movie, which had been turning Cleveland into far-away places then blowing it up for a couple of weeks; but still, portenty, right?

Last night, we went out for an end-of-summer last family dinner together before school began today. But last night, strong storms blew in and did bad things in north east Ohio, and school (at least for my three) didn’t happen. The younger one didn’t start High School after all. The eldest failed to launch herself headlong into her final year.

This morning’s Daily Office Psalm was 18, verses 1-20. Here are some samplings:

“The cords of hell entangled me, and the snares of death were set for me. I called upon the Lord in my distress, and cried out to my God for help.

He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling …

The earth reeled and rocked; …

He parted the heavens and came down with a storm cloud under his feet …

He wrapped darkness about him … From the brightness of his presence through the clouds burst hailstones and coals of fire …

He loosed his arrows and scattered them; he hurled thunderbolts and routed them …

He brought me into an open place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

For some, last night’s storms were a reprieve, a chance to catch up on things left undone at the end of the summer, a breathing space. But I hesitate to claim them as a rescue, because for others, the events of this week, and the threat of more storms to come, will have been a nightmare; they will have felt like anything but rescue.

Portents are in the eye of the beholder. But the Beholder delights in me, and in you, and will bring each of us into the open places where we can see clearly the love that God has for us, and share it with those for whom the rumblings of the earth and the heavens brings disaster.

Lord Christ, who bid the storm cease and the waves be still when your friends were in peril and in terror; bring your peace to bear on those who are in fear or in danger today because of natural forces or because of conflict and war. Let us who know your blessings share them with those who are in need of reassurance, comfort and relief, that your name may be blessed in all the earth, and all of God’s children know your love and peace. Amen.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing (Upper Room Books, 2020). She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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