In our upcoming course (starting THIS Thursday, WOOHOO!) The Elemental Wisdom of Fire, the second class will be about two very different kinds of fire: Lightning and the sun. This post is about my favorite of the two, lightning.
When I was young, I had this strange idea—truly strange—that I would like to be struck by lightning.
Well, I had this powerful, passionate love of thunderstorms, and I lived in a part of the world where we had them with some regularity throughout the summer. I didn’t live in the plains of the United States, but I lived in Pennsylvania, where we had flash floods, downed power lines, and trees split in half, all due to thunderstorms.
When I was very small, we lived in high on a ridge in a white house with black shutters, big pillars, and a sizable porch. That porch was key in my learning to love the storm.
One of my earliest memories is being awakened by a huge clap of thunder—a lightning strike nearby—and my mother being by my side just as I awoke. She was there to ask whether I wanted to come out on the porch and watch the storm with the grown-ups. “Oh yes!” I said, “ Oh yes!”
And so there we were. My family and even some neighbors, watching the storm come down the valley below us. So beautiful and powerful. And perhaps because my mother was there just as the lightning struck, I was not afraid.
Loving the Fire
I loved the loud. I loved the bright. I loved the blast. I think I must have loved the concentrated electrical fire that went up and down and back and forth.
And I especially loved the rolling drums of thunder when the storm was a little farther away.
Once my mother and I were in the car at a gas station, and lightning struck not twenty feet away. The gas pumps electricity was fried, and I remember that I could hardly see after the strike.
I was exhilarated.
Singing in the Rain
When I was older, I loved to go walking in the rain during storms. And I would even, in fact, sing.
Some people’s parents might not let their children do such a thing, but my parents shared my love of thunderstorms and so they understood my desire to be out in them.
I would walk and walk. First in my raincoat. Then in just my shirt. Then with no shirt on, turning my face up to the rain and delighting in the feeling in the air. Even in the house, I could—and can—tell when a storm is coming because I get goosebumps all over my body. Being in the rain, of course, added to that feeling, cold rain and electricity in the air.
So back to my original assertion, that I wanted to be struck by lightning. I have known three people in my life who’ve been hit by lightning, and all three of them have had strange and differing effects. All have had life-long pains of one kind or another, and nowadays I know enough not to wish those pains upon myself.
But when I was young, I was so inspired by the fire of lightning and the voice of thunder that I longed to be closer to them, as close as I could and still live.
I wanted to be the storm, be the lightning, be the thunder.
And to a certain degree, I was. I grew to have undiagnosed bipolar disorder and had the mood swings and fiery personality that came with that illness. I became the storm. I became the thunder, and even to a certain degree, I became the lightning.
Lightning is beautiful. It exhilarates and inspires me.
And it splits ancient trees. It downs power lines. It lights houses, forests, prairies on fire. Lightning is a power that can destroy, even as the rain gives life, but can be catastrophic in flood.
But lightning is not all destructive.
It is possible, in fact, that lightning over Ocean helped to create life on Earth.
But I don’t want to give away all my secrets… I offer these stories of my childhood and my love of the fire of lightning as a taste of what we might share in our second class. This Thursday, though, is our first class. We will gather and come to know one another around our hearth, the center of our online tele-course, The Elemental Wisdom of Fire.
Please do join us.
Each class will be recorded. There will be a Secret Facebook group for us to share more deeply and fully after having had class. I will post daily thoughts and reflections in the group, and we will have the chance to get to know one another better.
For more information or to register, go to The Way of the River and check out The Elemental Wisdom of Fire!