August 3, 2021

run into the storm

~July 14~

I woke up at 5am and my brain wouldn't turn off so I knew I needed to get up and take advantage of the time and go to the mountains.

I started my car and started driving through my neighborhood. The radio came on, but it wasn't music playing--it was the eery beeping of an emergency alert for flash flooding in Maricopa county.

Maricopa county is huge. I could see storm clouds in the north, but certainly I would be fine in the south! 

The thought crossed my mind that this was a lot like a hollywood movie--the girl gets in the car and the emergency alert goes off and you know the name of the movie is "thunderstorm" so you are rolling your eyes at her dumb decision to ignore the warning and yelling at her just to turn around and go home for goodness sake. 

Like the girl in those movies, I did not go back home like I should have. Whether it was over confidence, desperation to exercise, a sense of adventure calling to me, or just foolishness, I drove on to the Santans.

I parked next to just a handful of cars and started on the trail. Was it another warning that the usually packed parking lot was so empty?

Yes, yes it was.

I climbed to the top quickly, just in case a storm was actually on the way. I enjoyed the peace of the empty trails. Sure there were a few others I could see in the distance on their bikes of hiking, but we never crossed each other.

At the summit, I debated whether to turn around and go straight back down or continue down and around the loop. I saw another hiker on her way down the loop, too, so I guess that made me feel more comfortable that I wasn't the only one on the mountain. I chose to carry on.

As I was nearing the bottom of the far side of the mountain, the wind picked up. I looked at my phone to see that Eric sent me a text message telling me how hard it was raining at home and checking on me. The wind blew even harder and the dust started to swirl and I could see dark clouds and dust heading my way at a quick speed.

At the bottom of the mountain, I looked to the trail to the left. The sun was shining that way. I could see blue sky and puffy white clouds. I looked to the trail to the right. The giant dome of dust was rolling in, the sky was dark, and a flash of lightning lit the sky in the distance. To go left meant walking towards the calm and the main parking lot which is farther from home but where I could call and have Eric pick me up. But the storm is also heading that way...wouldn't I then be running with the storm? To go right meant facing the storm head on and whatever elements and dangers that would come with that but getting back to my car in the shortest time. The left was inviting and tempting. The right was bleak and frightening.

I went right. 

Don't you know by now? I am nothing but a fighter and and adventurer. I don't run away. I face everything head on. The only way to get away from the storm is to go through the storm.

Pictures don't do this storm justice. The wind was fierce and the rain was pummeling me and stinging my skin. I was drenched within a a minute.

And then there was the thing with the lightening. The desert in the middle of a lightening storm is not the place you want to be. There is no cover, no shelter.

I prayed the hardest, most sincere prayer and then ran the trail with all my might. 

The only problem being I am in the worst shape that I have been in since cancer. Running was hard. And a muddy trail with flowing water was difficult to traverse.

The worst of the storm passed and while the rain still came down, the wind didn't blow as hard. I took my phone out of my soaked pocket to try to capture the adventure.

Hiking in the rain didn't seem too bad at moments. It's warm rain in Arizona so it actually felt refreshing. However, as soon as I would settle into thoughts of enjoyment and start to relax. I would see another flash of lightening. So I'd start running again. Thank goodness the lightening was constant though!

It was such a happy sight to make it to the last turn in the trail that would lead me to my car.

After 45 min. in the storm, I was safe, albeit drenched, in my car.

I said a prayer of thanksgiving to have made it out of the storm. I'd like to think I emerged from that storm a little bit wiser, too. 

Sometimes in life, we are hiking a trail and we see a storm heading our way. We may think that we can turn away from the storm and go towards what appears to be a calm sky. But is that going to get us where we want to be? Or is that just going to give a us a few more minutes to delay the inevitable? And ultimately, would that make it more difficult for us? Would it mean a longer time in the storm to run with the storm? Would we just have to wait at the other end for someone to rescue us?

Let's face our storms with courage and with God. Pray hard then run harder. If you know that's the only way to go to get back to your car and your home then face your storms head on. For isn't that how you will get out of it the quickest? And maybe you will find moments in that storm that are actually enjoyable and give your relief from the heat of life. Maybe then you will see how capable and strong you are. A little water and mud never hurt anyone. The lightening might be frightening, but you can only control what you can control. Since you are already there, trust God and use your best logic and common sense to stay as safe as you can. Notice the beauty of the storm as you go along--the clouds, the newly created mini waterfalls, the desert smell. Maybe think about how you can prepare better next time by being in better shape, too. Choose to see the adventure of the storm and embrace it since you can't change it.

Let's face the storms we have to face and emerge a little wiser and stronger.