In the middle of a virtual small group, the power went out. The house dark. Meeting ended. Sirens blaring. Thankfully, my computer was plugged in during the meeting, because my phone was about to die. I expected to charge it for the night within the next hour and didn't expect the severe storm. After using my phone as a flashlight to plug it into my computer, I gathered both in my arms along with a rosary and can of flavored seltzer water and hurried down to the eery basement. My basement is unfinished, dark, and damp and filled with my grandparents' old knick-knacks (since I moved into their house after they passed away). Thankfully I found an old kitchen chair next to the dryer where I remained for the duration of the chaos.
During this quarantine, Jimmy Kimmel suggested that Americans would not know what they would do if the wifi were to go out! Here I was in a dark basement by myself, no wifi, and a sliver of cell service remaining. I had no way of tracking the tornado and when/if my house would be in its path. All I could do was sit, listen to the unceasing sirens, and pray. Not only was the tornado siren going off, but firetrucks and ambulances were in the area as well. I heard an explosion or firework of some sort and just didn't know what to expect next. I felt disconnected from dopplers or other contacts in the area. My cat was meowing and rubbing against my legs with her fur. I took some breaths and prayed the Glorious mysteries on this crazy Wednesday evening before Holy Thursday.
I remembered how earlier that day I heard a reflection on Passover since the Jewish feast started that very night. Little did I know that I would be able to experience a very small part of what those families were feeling as the Angel of Death PASSED OVER their homes in the middle of the night.
My reflection on this Old Testament story transitioned to a New Testament parable (Luke 16:11-32). As I sat in the basement, feet away from my cat's litter box, I imagined how the Prodigal Son felt when he squandered his father's inheritance and had to eat with the swine (pigs). He ran from his father's house thinking that he could find a better life on his own. What must he have felt sitting there in the pig stye remembering that even his father's servants were more satisfied? I sat there in the dark getting whiffs from the litter box as my battery level dropped. It was 11:00 pm and I just wanted to go upstairs to my comfy bed. I was not sure if that was okay yet with the ongoing warning of severe weather. What was the younger son thinking as he decided to go back to his father's house and ask to be one of his servants? What humility that must have required to recognize his poor choice and choose to admit that to the person he hurt most.
It is true that the tornado was not the Angel of Death coming to take the lives of firstborns and my time in the basement was not an act of sin and rebellion against a loving parent. The greatest truth is that God speaks to us in our ordinary experiences if we listen. The more we marinate our minds in Scripture the more God can make connections between our story and the Christian story and visa versa. How is God speaking into your story through His living Word?