Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Struck by Lightning

Our family of four were struck by lightning when anchored just off shore in the Salish Sea. The pianist and I were in the cabin cruiser with our 13 year old and our 11 year old and the youngest of 8 was on shore in a tree house with her friend. The weather had been unsettled that day and we were sleeping aboard that night when a savage storm struck with both forked and sheet lightning. Our family friends, in their cottage, rescued the tree dwellers and watched us through their windows as the storm surged around them and us. Janet, our friend said, with each lightning strike the entire bottom of the bay was lighted up. The four of us, trapped , formed a ring in the boat, held hands, and prayed. It's a certain sign of extreme anxiety when you can get a 13 year old and an 11 year old to pray aloud and fervently for salvation! The roof leak on the cabin cruiser drenched us but we didn't notice. The boat was anchored in the bay on the mud floor with a heavy chain since it was pretty shallow anchorage. Then, at the height of the storm, we were struck by a bolt of lightning and an instant clap of loud thunder. The boat shook! We shook! There was an instant smell of ozone throughout the boat. The boat must have been grounded by the anchor chain. That was all we noticed, though a fresh downpour made us wetter by the minute. It would have been dangerous to try to make shore in a dingy in that storm. We simply had to wait it out. In the morning we observed the drinking water in our galvanized tank under the floor boards had gone from clear and clean, to the color of 2% milk. In the aftermath we, and our old boat, were unhurt. Janet said, as they watched us in the storm, they thought we might be "goners", because they saw the lightning strike the boat. Certainly our 8 year old, safe in the house, told us she was praying with us. A number of trees were downed in that storm and a cottage destroyed. Though this happened almost 40 years ago, it is etched in our collective memories, the dangers of the sea, and the weather, and the power of prayer.

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