In July I sat on a New Jersey beach with my best friend Kayla, singing about hurricanes. The ukulele had a broken string, so it was just us and the waves:
“He is jealous for me / Loves like a hurricane. I am a tree / Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.”
I didn’t like the simile, since I didn’t understand it and had often heard others accuse it of sentimentality. But Kayla had chosen the song, and I humored her.
She was about to get on an airplane to Ethiopia, where she planned to serve as a missionary to a leper colony for the next 13 months. Best friends since the toddler Sunday School, we felt the parting like David and Jonathan, and for a last hurrah traveled out there to stick our toes in the sand and sing.
We, of course, didn’t know that the same ocean would be spitting all over the East Coast one week in late October, just when Kayla would be allowed an unforeseen visit back home. We didn’t know that Hurricane Sandy might prevent the visit.
Monday night I fell asleep in my heavy bunk bed while Sandy spit hard on the maple outside my room and harrowed its rusting leaves with her breathing. I prayed God would get Kayla back here, and the sound of Sandy circled my room like the echo of the ocean in a shell.
We’ve planned our reunion with every celebratory ingredient—eating and sleeping and cooking and telling stories and squeezing each other too tight. It will be too good to be true.
I greeted the tidings of canceled classes with manifold grins and dancing. But if this storm keeps me from getting home to New York for fall break—or my best friend from getting home from Ethiopia—I’m going to be furious. As angry as the spitting wind.
I told my mother so, and she cut me off quickly: “Do you not believe God has good things for you, whatever He chooses?”
That’s right: “Loves like a hurricane.” Loves through a hurricane. For everything God does for me is love, regardless of how it seems to me.
For two days our Virginia world whooshes with rain, and we stay in. A deep tiredness sets in at the college. The distant ocean we never think of smashes against the window screens—and we turn a moment from our typing. We can stop at last and have long talks with each other, shed our wet shoes and let our wet feet glisten under the lounge light bulbs. I have to smile, warm all the way to the insides. Not every day does the weather reach out and touch me like this.
And one hour from now Kayla will board an airplane flying from Addis Ababa to Amsterdam to New York. I pray her home safe and quick, and God answers me kindly. He chooses to love me through the hurricane. I bend beneath His mercy, and a grin of expectation breaks my face.