The Urgency of the Awesome

Hughs Wordquilts

68751972_1081560372035314_3139446971106852864_nRecently my brother, who lives in the Shenandoah Valley, sent pictures online of wind damage to our family’s homeplace. Trees were down, others still standing but split into pieces. Debris was everywhere.

My first thought was, this is an old family photo, probably from a time after I had left home (Jim is twelve years younger than I). It seemed like an awesome occurrence I should have remembered, so I texted him, “When was this? I don’t recall mom and dad ever mentioning it.”

“Yesterday,” came the reply.

That surprised me. Although I don’t pay close attention to weather reports, I do watch the news on TV and read the newspaper every morning. It seemed like this surely would have been reported.

Jim texted me again, “It was a microburst.”

“What’s that?”

“Straight-line winds in a thunderstorm.”

It was a new term to me, so I checked it out…

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The Urgency of the Awesome

68751972_1081560372035314_3139446971106852864_n

Recently my brother, who lives in the Shenandoah Valley, sent pictures online of wind damage to our family’s homeplace. Trees were down, others still standing but split into pieces. Debris was everywhere.

My first thought was, this is an old family photo, probably from a time after I had left home (Jim is twelve years younger than I). It seemed like an awesome occurrence I should have remembered, so I texted him, “When was this? I don’t recall mom and dad ever mentioning it.”

“Yesterday,” came the reply.

That surprised me. Although I don’t pay close attention to weather reports, I do watch the news on TV and read the newspaper every morning. It seemed like this surely would have been reported.

Jim texted me again, “It was a microburst.”

“What’s that?”

“Straight-line winds in a thunderstorm.”

It was a new term to me, so I checked it out. Wikipedia informs me that a microburst is “a downdraft caused by a thunderstorm or a rain shower.” High winds plunge straight down from the cloud bottom, then burst outward in all directions when they hit the ground. Next comes a cushion stage where the wind velocity dissipates. Damages can cover up to two-and-a-half miles.

While the term was new to me, I found it not to be so uncommon when checking the history of this weather phenomenon. I found a listing of 18 incidents attributed either to microbursts or storms that included microbursts and tornadoes. They covered a period from 1989 through 2019, affecting aircraft, buildings, businesses, homes, highways, vehicular damage, injuries, and death. Microbursts can also compromise wind flow across the wings of aircraft in flight, causing the engines to stall.

One incident in June 2010, involved damages from 75 mph winds in Charlottesville, Virginia. Another in July 1012, occurred the Fredericksburg area. Most recently, a microburst caused a crane to topple onto an apartment building in Dallas, Texas this summer.

So, I wonder, how is it I’ve been unaware of microbursts? Could it be that in an era when the internet has shrunken our sense of the world’s vastness, we no longer notice the small things? Perhaps terms like “awesome” and “newsworthy” are reserved for events affecting huge, sweeping damages.

Whatever the case, this was one microburst that hit home for me. In my consciousness, microbursts will never again be swallowed up in the urgency of the awesome clamoring for a loftier audience.

 

Return to Sanity

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We need a return to sanity at the heart of our national life. I believe the majority of Americans are decent, hard-working, honest people who honor their country’s values of freedom and justice for all. We make mistakes and learn from them. We seek the good in others, rather than scold them as bad people, or fear them because of differences of race, belief, or place of origin.

We live our daily lives within the context of conflicting pressures that often test our patience and perseverance. We admire the sentiments engraved at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, inviting those who are torn, weary, and desperate to a place among us. We are proud of our country and want it to stand on the high ground among the nations of the world.

That is not to deny the presence of intolerance, greed, self-aggrandizement, criminal exploitation, snobbishness, disrespect for others, and violence among us. In recent years these characteristics have come to dominate much of our conversation, and our presence in the world. Trust has disappeared. Decency has faded. Tribalism threatens to destroy the very fabric America has always represented. We must practice government “of, by, and for the people,” not a form of regressive feudalism.

It is abhorrent that we have allowed a president and his cadre of pirates to raid and trash our nation’s honor. We must restore respect to the office of the president. We must repair the brokenness he has wrought. The rights and humanity of all persons must be recognized from the Executive Branch, down. Trust and honor must overshadow political favoritism. The principle of innocence until proven guilty must be central.

Regardless of political affiliation, our nation needs a centrist approach that embraces the lives and destinies of all our citizens.