Sometimes thunder doesn’t boom and go, echo sharply and startle – sometimes just a steady, tympanic drone ripple-rolling across the black clouds spitting rain for the wind to weave into fog-ish sheets.  And so awakened, this bass-tone really hasn’t startled, just brought a sleepy awareness of two fur balls of kitten, one head tucked against my shoulder and cheek, the other front legged wrapped around my left shin.  Both purrrr away worry, Nani the gentle, now and then soprano-mew and Taz the steady, deep baritone rhythming his breaths.  Dawn has arrived, but only to a small degree in the leaden sky denying daylight.  Another rollllling bruuummmble and heads tuck, one behind the knee, the other into the crook of my shoulder and neck.  The purr gives way to quick inhales, reassurance seeking licks, and my hands pulling across each furred forehead tucking the ears.  Their relaxing, palpable against me, brings a smile.  “Just a summer storm buddies, just a storm.  We’ll weather it ok.”  In the lull, Taz pops up to the window sill for a peek at water-world and about the same time the storm kicks a more insistent boom.  A perfectly vertical, leaping ‘mreoooow’ brings him onto my head, two paws claws connecting with the pillow, two others with my scalp.  “Well, I guess the cats will be ok anyway.”

The slosh ebbs, eases into soft clappity taps in the eaves as the kittens boldly go to wherever courageously bold, but slinking, cats need to go.  I felt a tad heroic in providing assurance, a bigger tad needed in a moment of crisis for them.  I rued not being up north in Ashland with daughter Rosie as floods ravaged the roads, train tracks, landscape, and homes there and on into the Upper Peninsula.  And of course, a think pursues my laze that enjoys this tinkly tappy tap of roofed harmony, the drummers brush on cymbals and across the drum head. As a boy, my fears ran to mom, fears particularly accented by late night, farm prairie gully washers complete with brilliantly flashed lightning through frail curtains, the bang clang of the clapping thunder across the blades of the windmill as the wind creaked through too-close-to-the-house oak branches – shadow arms reaching and grasping for my very soul!  In hindsight, I ponder what mom did with her for sure fears?  Dad, well I figure he didn’t have any, just worry about rebuilding the stave silo that, in emptiness, was sure to cave.

Age and growing faith doesn’t really dispel fears, just brings me to a purrrfect place to snug safely.  Surely damage occurs, pain comes, “things” break – but when the calamitous cacophony of clashes concludes, God’s will be done and His hands and Angel’s wings have seen me through as He saw fit.  Always seems to be a “but”, though.  In those thunderous times, Satan gains a bit of power, finds flaws in this tapestry of Christian life, the weak spots in the lacy lay of peace.  Nowadays, he smilingly finds quite a lot of opportunity to infest even the strongest of believers – “what, are you nuts?!  God can’t shelter you!  You have to do something, what good is ‘prayer’ anyway, fool?”   Smiles.  I know we all hear that rascally rasp of voice in the hollows of “what if’s?” and worries about “what’s next?”   Satan shouts out, “Look at the volcanoes, the earthquakes, the environment – God’s punishing you! Go to Him and get what?”

Yes, those thinks pursue me.  Doesn’t take missing a few Sundays of worship and loving conversation with a faith community to have that voice get pretty loud.  The most precious of all service moments comes for me in the share of God’s peace.  A handshake, a hug, a smile, a voice.  An overwhelming sense of assurance – not alone, not ever alone in the most solo of times, in the echoing etching of fingernail scratch on chalkboard life in which Satan can smile, but briefly.  submitted by Dave Smith