By Judy Brandon: Local columnist
Kansas and parts of Oklahoma and Texas have been in the news lately because of the heavy rains. We had an experience in Kansas years ago when the rain was heavy and the tornadoes were threatening. But just to note how long ago that was, it was before emergency lighting in buildings.
Years ago, our family headed north to see relatives. On the way, we spent two nights in Kansas City, Kan., so our family could visit some friends from seminary days. We checked in the hotel and settled in for a good night’s sleep.
But something startled us in the early hours past midnight. It was around 1:30 in the morning when a knock on our hotel room door woke us all up. Daddy, surprised at who it might be at that hour, jumped out of bed and opened the door. That is when we all heard the voice of an excited and harried young man who was employed by the hotel.
The attendant warned us that a tornado had been sighted in Kansas City. The tornado was spotted on the ground and was coming in the direction of the hotel.
Nervously the young man gave us instructions to go downstairs to the basement so we would be safe if the tornado really did hit. The severe thunderstorm had already caused the lights to go out in the hotel. That’s why the young attendant was distributing candles to all the visitors to help light the way to the basement. That is right — candles. No backup lights were in the building.
We grabbed our robes, and Daddy took Susie’s hand and Mother, mine. Frazzled and still droopy-eyed, we traipsed out the door and into the hall.
Once in the hall, the hotel personnel told us the elevator was out of order because of the electricity predicament. We would have to take the long flight of stairs down to the basement, descending by foot, holding on to our candles and robes.
As we walked out into the darkened hall, it became more eerie while splashes of light from the lightning illuminated walls and faces for seconds. Tremendous claps of deafening thunder made me grip Mother’s hand even tighter.
But we soon realized we were not alone. As we walked the hall, doors were opening all around us as other guests were heeding the warning of the hotel personnel. Even though our little dim candles were not very helpful to a dark hallway, our hearts were encouraged as we all held our candles collectively. With many candles, the entire hall lit up as if the real lights were on. All that candlelight together gave enough light to guide us all to the hotel basement and safety.
When our lights were united with all the other folks carrying candles, the dark hallway lit up like magic. Our steps became more confidant and our nerves more settled. We could see where we were going.
That experience impresses upon me this singular great thought: Through the storms and dark times of our lives, Jesus is our hope, our light. There is a sense of presence of God in the worst kinds of life’s circumstances. We do not walk alone. God is with us. Jesus himself said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.” (John 8:12)
Even though the corridors of life may at times be dark, Jesus dispels the darkness and leads us safely through.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: