Here, Between the Storms

Mirror Lake shimmers in its craggy casement like a portal to another world. It begs a closer look, so we break from the trail and summit an obliging boulder. Our breathing slows to the rhythm of waves lapping up the muddy shoreline. A granite peak looms overhead. There’s a moonlike tranquility here that I’ve never felt before.

Just one glimpse into this liquid looking glass draws me into deep. Heaven knows I’m cringing at what I see on the surface. That first squint in the bathroom mirror after you stumble out of bed? That’s this whole year glaring back at me. Most days I just wince and look away. 

“Toss one in,” Lora coaxes. “It’s so satisfying!”

I heave the jagged rock beside us skyward and shatter the water below. It steals away the silence for miles. I grin back at her, feeling a fourth-grade flush sweep over my face. There are others here taking in Mirror Lake, but I secretly revel in this plunder of peace.

I wonder why.

A breeze tickles the lake and turns to play with stray hairs on our foreheads. It teases us with a fiction of calm. But we know better, and we know who we really are: just two girls penned into a story, sitting between storms. That’s life in the high country, but heaven knows we’ve shivered through enough of them in this last trip around the sun. As if the virus wasn’t thief enough. These tempests stole our narrative and scripted a dystopian bestseller; one that is somehow, impossibly, non-fiction:

“Will God not much more care for you?”

Lighting struck with debilitating truths. Thunder inevitably followed, peeling into a hundred sleepless nights. Hail fell in paralyzing plot twists. It tore through sky and skin in sheet after sheet, storm after storm. High winds gusted all that was not already bolted down. Concrete that held for decades now lies cracked beneath it all.

We are fractured too – pieces of our former selves.

For him . . . for her . . . for all these frail and fragile ones we love? 

But here, between the storms, the water flaunts a sky of brilliant blue. Mirror Lake rests easy again, with one more jagged rock asleep in her depths. The sun scatters diamonds across the surface as far as we can see. We take a breath. It’s the only way we know to weather this storyline of storms. A breeze stirs water into waves, inviting the diamonds to dance. Another breath. Another assent to the truth that we and these points of light are soulmates. Maybe that’s the moral of this story (if there is one) that we, too, live at the mercy of the wind and waves.

Wildflowers peek out between boulders, dabbing the ridge with strokes of violet-gold. Lora spots an aspen daisy and her eyes settle there.

“How is it,” she ponders “that it lasts even a single night in this untamed place?”

Our pedaled companion offers no reply. Here, between the storms, she is infinitely more at ease than we’ll ever be. She won’t tremble when the thunder growls, or lean into an obliging rock as raindrops wet her stem. She cannot. She nods helplessly and radiantly in the breeze. She neither toils nor spins and still bests Solomon’s glory.  

“Will God not much more care for you?”* Lora adds to the liturgy.

I find the lake again and drink in the deep.

For him . . . for her . . . for all these frail and fragile ones we love? 

Are we not also beloved? Are we not also made for storms?

We rise for the benediction.

Lora exhales softly and slides off the boulder. “The snow falls soon,” she sighs, “just a few weeks.” Her boot scuffs a stone, rolling it up the ridge. We follow it back towards the trail.

There are rumors of winter here as green slowly succumbs to gold. They foreshadow a future of frozen storms from chapters not yet written. They will come and close Mirror Lake under heavy lids of ice. We inhale the fading season as we bid farewell to our flower. I will think of her in the days to come, blanketed and breathtaking in a robe of alabaster-white.  

*Matthew 6:28-30

Feature Image Credit: Arūnas Naujokas on Unsplash

Image Credit: Ankhesenamun on Unsplash
Nichole Woo
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