like lightningthe thunder came with asharp crack, but only afterthe jagged streak of lightcame first, piercing the night,startling me, sending shockwaves through my body sothat my hair stood on end,and then I waited for a secondor two, whispering to myself,here it comes.and then the sound of thunderwashed over me, leaving mewith a pang of excitement mixedwith not a little dread, and theni sat waiting for another strike,holding my breath as i waited,for what seemed like an eternitybefore letting it out, and thenstaring into the dark and saying,never twice.
If you were wondering, the poem led me to reflect on that old chestnut, "Lightning never strikes the same place twice," which I've heard more than once but never really gave much thought to.
A quick search on the Interwebs revealed this definition of that saying, which I thought was pretty good:
“Lightning never strikes the same place twice” is a common phrase you've probably heard before, often used to reassure someone that whatever bad thing has happened, it won't happen again. It can even be used when something good happens, such as winning the lottery, but the underlying truth remains.
The most fascinating thing about this phrase is that it applies to both good things and bad.
You can have something extraordinary happen to you, and someone could wryly and perhaps even in a caustic and jealous way hit you with it. "Well, you know," they might mutter as you celebrate your good fortune, "lightning never strikes the same place twice."
But you can also find yourself comforted by a friend after something terrible occurs, as they put their hand on your shoulder and say to you softly, "At least lightning never strikes the same place twice."
Here's the rub in all of this, though... Lightning may not strike the same place twice, but there's a one in nine million chance it might strike the same person twice.
As I write this, I am visiting my mom's family in South Carolina for the first time since her funeral here in 2017. Not surprisingly, I'm feeling pretty vulnerable and small right about now.
So many of the best memories of my childhood with my mom were made here, and those memories and the emotions connected to them are hitting me all at once.
No sooner than I arrived here, the lightning strike of acute grief and loss flashed and landed on me with electrifying results.
And along with it came the vulnerability that seems to attract other lightning strikes from other griefs and losses.
It works that way, I've come to understand. The odds of getting struck seem narrowed when standing in a field of emotion, holding the steel rod of brokenness to the sky, awaiting what comes next.
Which is why my poem makes so much sense to me. We often live with the illusion that we will never have to experience pain more than once or that when something good happens, we may never feel that again.
I sometimes repeat a verse in the Bible: "The rain falls on the just and the unjust." This means that storms and life-giving showers come upon us all, no matter who we are.
Sometimes the lightning strikes of good fortune land upon us again and again. And sometimes, some strikes bring us grief and pain, which we experience more than once.
But through it all, we can find comfort in knowing that the One who walked on weather and overcame the storms on the Sea of Galilee is the One who can overcome even the most fierce lightning storms of our own life.
So, no matter what the lightning brings, we are held and covered by the love of Jesus, who comforts us and gives us hope no matter what the storms might bring.
May we all be filled with peace in this truth, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.