This summer I did some jet skiing. We bought the skis a few years back and they have been nothing but fun. Its exhilarating, that first trip of the day, flying over the water. I always find my soul praising God. On this particular summer day, it was the brothers Clark. Just us four boys being … well, boys. Though the weather started off perfect, soon after launching the skis a storm threatened.
I have a memory from when I was five of playing out in a thunderstorm with my cousin Mark. It was one of those freak thunderstorms - one minute it’s a beautiful sunny day, the next, the clouds have turned ugly and the sky opens. It poured. I have a clear image to this day of lightning flashing at the end of the driveway and the thunder crashing down on our heads. I also remember laughing and singing raucously with Mark, “Its raining its pouring the old man is snoring” as we marched fully clothed in circles around the circumference of my little blue plastic pool.
It’s a great memory and it’s only slightly dampened by the arrival of my mothers shrill and anxious screaming. “Jason, Mark! Come inside! Now!” She seemed possessed as she gestured hysterically at us from the porch to hurry. It certainly didn’t match my euphoric feelings but by the time Mark and I stood in the kitchen, wrapped in towels and dripping water on the linoleum, I had, if not a clear understanding, at least a better grasp of what happens to little boys who get struck by lightning.
Now some children after hearing about blackened toenails and smoking heads would never go out in a thunderstorm again but it was too late for me. You see, for a moment I experienced the wonder of standing out in a downpour and it was glorious. So, the other day while out jet skiing with my brothers, I couldn’t help but stay out in the storm.
It came while we were on the open water. We idled alone on the lake watching the black wall of clouds approach. The sky went from bright afternoon to dusk in minutes. Sheets of rain hit the far end of the lake, it was moving toward us quickly. It was violent and beautiful. Then lightning began to strike the water and we started counting - just like when we were kids. "One one thousand, two one thousand." The thunder boomed. "Two miles away" Joel said, a grin on his face.
Another flash, "One one thousand" BOOM! It was coming fast. My mothers voice faintly tugged at my mind. "Maybe we should head to shore?" I said. "Yeah" Ben sighed, he was in the water but had started climbing on to the back of Joel's ski. CRACK BOOM! "That one was close" I yelled over a sudden gust of wind. I think we could all hear moms voice now. We raced for shore.
We docked the skis just as the first fat drops fell. Then, being fascinated by the storm and intoxicated with its wildness, we swam under the raised dock and waited it out in the water. That is, Joel, Ben and myself swam beneath the dock. Josiah, the fourth brother, apparently heard moms voice at full volume with clear inflection and decided to to towel off. He waited it out like a civilized person - dry and under a roof.
The lightning and thunder did not disappoint. The rain fell so heavy you couldn’t see 10 yards. I was a boy again, making jokes, laughing and though I didn’t sing, it was close. We told stories about people getting struck by lightning - each one of us trying to better the previous tale. Then Joel gave a statistic that 9 out of 10 people struck by lightning survived. I was just about to make a joke, you know, about how there was only three of us in the water and how that seemed like good odds when -
Someone kicked me! A spear to my kidneys!
At the same moment, both Ben and Joel also appeared to have been kicked. Both of them looked at me with pained confusion. All at once it dawned on us. Then, as we realized what had happened, we started laughing, hysterically. Joel screamed, “Get out of the water!” - moms voice couldn't have been louder if she'd been standing next to us
“Joel, is my head smoking?”
You know, I have never, in my entire life, wondered what happens when lightning strikes water and you are in it… and now, I will never have to.
Later, Josiah, who had watched the whole thing from the dry safety of the covered dock, said that the lightning had struck only 30 feet from us…
The moral here? Well, lets just thank God I don’t have ten brothers…
And, I should probably listen to moms voice now and again; she knows a thing or two.
Love you mom...