Let There Be Lightning

It’s a little early for Thankful Thursdays, but sometimes, inspiration strikes like lightning–and today, tonight, whichever it is–that’s exactly what I’m thankful for!

8. Lighting.

We’re having a lightning storm this evening, a lot of wind, not a lot of rain, and so when I went forth to pull up the plants (they could use the watering, but not if it means being blown across the yard), I stopped in wonder as lightning flooded the sky and turned night into day–I literally cast a shadow by the flash alone. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw the entire sky lit up the brightest white I’ve ever seen. I walked onto our driveway, looking skywards, and just said to myself, “This is the wonder of God.”

There I stood for ten minutes, watching countless flashes of lightning–brilliant white, yellow and blue, the clouds purple and grey as tendrils of electricity danced and arced across the sky. I’ve always been fascinated by lightning, even as a child when I was afraid of it, and I recall many long years ago when we would draw open the living room curtains and I would sit with my mother during the storms, not watching the weather channel or even the news, but watching the lightning instead.

A disciple of science, I’m saddened most by my physics course this semester that it isn’t my physics course next semester: Mechanics and thermodynamics might be interesting, but nothing is as wondrous as electromagnetism and cosmology, and in a single instance of lightning, all of this comes together.

We really don’t know what causes lightning (there’s a fascinating video from the series NOVA on PBS.org), but do we need to know the why to appreciate the what? In many ways the knowledge of nature, to me, adds to my pleasure of it–understanding its intricacies and inherent perfectness makes me feel closer to God, as if by studying the creation I’m bringing myself closer to the creator. But in the end, it’s not the reason why that makes us wonder why, but the wonder of what it is that makes us ask ourselves why it is so.

We can’t always find the answer why, and even when we can we might not understand it, but sometimes we don’t have to. Standing outside and watching the lightning, nothing else seemed to matter but the elegant and extravagant display of color and electricity and everything coming together just right that flashed before me against the clouded sky. Sometimes the lightning was hidden, casting a glow through the clouds; other times it was at the forefront, captivating and mesmerizing.

It’s not just lightning that showcases God’s wonders, and I’m sure this won’t be the only post in these hundred things about the weather, but when things seem stagnant and the same–when things really need a jolt to bring them back to order, is anything better than watching lightning for ten minutes standing in the rain?

Right now, I don’t believe there is.

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