Crack! A sharp snap of white hot light split the black clouds of the summer sky. A few moments later a deep, low, rumble surrounded us.

“Nothing to worry about kids,” reassured my father. “It’s just the angels bowling.”

Lightning, he explained, was the striking of the pins, and the rumbling was the heavy bowling ball bouncing down the alley lane. That certainly sounded plausible to three little kids who attended Saturday catechism classes. After all, the nuns told us we had guardian angels, so we assumed sure, they got together occasionally for a little fun.  But did they have to be so loud when they did?

As I got a little older I learned, of course, that there was no bowling league in the sky for angels. The explanations as to the how and why of thunderstorms became science based. My parents remained calm during a thunderstorm, respectfully marveling at the energy of the lightning and the thunder. My father taught us to count the seconds between the lightning crack and the rumble of the thunder to calculate how close the storm was.  We reveled in the excitement of it, safe inside our house.

As the summer storm subsided in its intensity, the last bit of wind pushed away the dark clouds to reveal fairer skies. Lingering raindrops cascaded and shimmered down through the leaves of the trees. Song birds resumed their melodies. The air was laundered clean and crisp. The rhythm and balance of the natural world reestablished itself. It was safe for us to venture into the backyard again to see what the storm had wrought. Sometimes the storm passed harmlessly, and sometimes damage remained in its wake that required clean up and repairs. Some things like a grand old oak with its trunk split in two could never be repaired.

Life has never been as simple as it was when I was a child and believed that angels bowled. For the most part, I still enjoy a good thunderstorm that brings only minimal damage but welcome rain to the garden. As I’ve trekked through the ups and downs of my life, I’ve weathered personal storms of loss. We all have. Many of us have faced job or financial losses, health issues, or broken relationships. Just as in nature, some of these storms have passed harmlessly. Others have left behind damage that required time to mend and repair. The most lethal storms have resulted in the death of a loved one. Though these storm will rumble and crack around me again, I’ve learned that my skies will eventually clear. I will pick up the pieces and assess the damage, strive to regain my own rhythm and balance, and resume my trek through the ups and downs of my life as best I can.

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