What's Tony Thinking

The Still Before the Storm


I know the conventional phrase is “the calm before the storm,” but based on the last few days here in the Wallowas, “calm” doesn’t quite get it. “Still” — an eerie, heavy, stifling feeling — is closer to it. It makes you long for the storm to break loose.

And last night it did. About half an hour past midnight the thunder began to crack, to roll and then to explode like a cannon shot off the surrounding mountains. Sheet and line lightning struck again and again. An odd thing was that the stars were out. There was little if any rain to accompany the aerial extravaganza. Now we await reports. Did the lightning start fires? So far, we’ve been fortunate with no wildfires, to speak of, up here in Northeast Oregon.

The night before, Monday, there had also been thunder and lightning, and strong winds, but not nearly so much as last night. The photo here is from the Monday night storm, and is taken by Ellen Morris Bishop, a geologist who writes for the Wallowa County Chieftain, our local weekly newspaper. At Ellen’s Facebook site she has posted some extraordinary photos of the Perseid Meteor shower taken at midnight August 13th on Harkin’s Butte on the Zumwalt Prairie.

I’ve climbed that Butte a number of times, but not entirely sure I’d want to be doing that in the middle of the night.

In my post recent post, “God and the Pandemic” I speculated that if there is a word from the Lord in this pandemic it might a call to humility on all our parts. The words of God, to Job, strike such a note.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me since you are so well informed?

“Who decided the dimensions of it, do you know? Or who stretched the measuring line across it?

“Who supports its pillars at its base? Who laid its cornerstone, when all the stars of the morning were singing with joy, and the Sons of God in chorus were chanting praise?” (Job 38: 4 – 7)

And a summer thunderstorm too reminds us of our finitude, our smallness — in a good way.

As the Democrat’s virtual convention proceeds, one hears occasional laments that Joe Biden is not charismatic enough, not exciting enough, not electric enough. That’s fine by me. We don’t need another hero, to take a line from Whitney Huston. We don’t need another strongman or messiah. We need a capable, competent, fallible, empathetic human being who puts the interests of the country ahead of his own. For the political arena, less storm, more calm is just fine by me.


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