WE were a family of four: parents, my teenage sister, and I, a baby not yet a year old. Because we lived in tornado country, our ``farm'' had a special feature, a storm cellar, located some distance from the house. Though we had yet to use the cellar for storm shelter, we were prepared.
Usually, you could see a twister--a tornado--coming a long way off. The dark, swirling funnel of the storm moved fast and swept aside everything in its path. Over the years I have often heard the story of how we prayed during one storm. Knowing that although I was just a baby, I, too, came through with flying colors makes that experience special to me.
On this day, when news of the approaching storm came, Dad hurried home to get us all under cover, fast. Our family, along with food, water, blankets, and our few chickens in makeshift cages, moved into the shelter to wait out the storm. Dad told us what to expect, and warned that we might not have a house standing after the storm had passed. Mama prayed to see God's loving will being done. She knew that we did not have to accept the idea of loss.
She and Dad talked about the story of Elijah that's in the Bible, in First Kings. Elijah had learned that God was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire and had listened instead to God's ``still small voice'' (19:12). That same inescapable voice of God's presence assured us that we abided safely in God only. Mama had recently begun studying Christian Science, after a wonderful healing, and my sister was going to the Christian Science Sunday School (I was still too young).
By the lantern's light they read from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. Mama told me how they all repeated the ninety-first Psalm, which reassures, ``He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty'' (verse 1). And they also said the twenty-third Psalm, which ends, ``Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever'' (verse 6).
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has written so much about safety from storms in her writings. A statement in Science and Health proved very sustaining in this situation: ``The understanding, even in a degree, of the divine All-power destroys fear, and plants the feet in the true path,--the path which leads to the house built without hands `eternal in the heavens''' (p. 454). Our family also recognized that because God, divine Love, is all-powerful, the storm could have no power.
As Mrs. Eddy affirms elsewhere in Science and Health, ``There is no vapid fury of mortal mind--expressed in earthquake, wind, wave, lightning, fire, bestial ferocity--and this so-called mind is self-destroyed'' (p. 293).
When the storm hit, with much roaring and howling and rattling of the storm door, my dad firmly held the chains and rope that were anchoring the door. Mother held firmly to the truth, that we were held safely in the arms of Love, and that nothing unlike God could enter our dwelling place, where Spirit, God, was All. I was a good baby and only whimpered and fretted a tiny bit. You could say I was praying, too, in my own way. The chickens in their cages were quiet, also, covered with cloths by my sister, whose special charges they were.
Finally the storm passed over and all that could be heard was stillness. The storm door was pushed open. Dad emerged first and gave a loud whoop of jubilation. The house was still standing! Later a lot of dirt had to be swept away, but our house was firm on its foundations.
All those truths from the Bible and from Mrs. Eddy's books had kept our thought trusting in God and in a good and right outcome. Our family was held safe in the sheltering arms of God.
A verse from one of my favorite psalms really sums it all up for me: ``Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy'' (16:11). Our dear Father-Mother God truly showed our family that path of life--and that path was not ever touched by the storm. It led into the fullness of the joy of God's presence that day and every day!