The kids are fast asleep when the loud siren sounds from across the street. Looking out the front window the setting sun mixed with dark clouds leaves a hazy, eerie light. No rain falls, but the trees whip in the lashing wind. Returning from a funeral visitation, my husband rushes through the door. “Let’s go.”
“I guess it’s good we decided our plan in case the tornado sirens go off.” Not really thinking a few hours ago that tonight would be the night to put the plan into action.
Walking into Isaac’s room I stare at him, on his belly with thumb in mouth, not wanting to rouse him from sleep. The siren’s continuous blare reminding me that this isn’t any ordinary night. If I had any hope of not having to fear tornadoes with our children, they’ve quickly been dashed. Rubbing his back I reach both hands in to pick him up. He wakes, rubs his eyes, and stares at me wide-eyed.
“It’s okay, Bubba. We’re okay. I’m here.” As much a reminder for me as for him. Meeting Stephen in the hallway with Charlotte equally sleepy, her arms wrapped around her daddy, both kids in matching Paw Patrol pajamas and bare feet, we grab the dog and make our way through the ever-increasing gray clouds and wind to the church across the street.
We spend two hours in the church basement. We’re not alone though. The funeral visitation has many visitors who remain until the storms pass. With ever-alerting phones, we know we’re in the path of a strong storm. Isaac sits in my lap, thumb back in his mouth, “It’s okay. We’re okay,” I repeat over and over.
The kids finally wake up and begin playing with their friends. I don’t need to tell them anymore that we’re okay, they’re having a ball running around oblivious to any potential danger. I remain seated, checking my phone, texting to see how others are faring. Repeating to myself, “It’s okay.”
This is what it’s like to be a mother. Protecting our children, doing whatever it takes to keep them safe, and ultimately knowing that so much is out of our control. But never failing to remind them, “It’s okay. We’re okay. You’re not alone.”
This is what it means to be a part of a community of faith. Coming together in joy and in sorrow. Celebrating and grieving. Keeping vigil. Bearing Christ’s light. Showing each other that we’re not alone.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller/