Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The day I crossed tornadoes off my never, ever list

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published May 26, 2016

Many people have a “bucket list” that often includes visiting exotic places and trying daredevil feats like sky-diving—but, frankly, you can count me out.2016 05 26 GB MURRAY The day I crossed tornadoes off

Sure, there are things I’d like to do before I die—but they’re mostly repeats of what I’ve done before. I mean, really, is the ocean ever the same place it was, say, three minutes ago?

And is it possible to get bored watching the sun rise each day? What about cloud formations that one moment resemble a fierce dragon and the next a giant turtle?

Still, I do keep a “never, ever” list of things I definitely want to avoid—such as encountering an alligator in the Florida wilderness, getting caught in a riptide at the beach, running into a gigantic flying palmetto bug anywhere in my house and most of all, being near a tornado.

Which brings me to my recent trip to visit my sister in Wichita. In previous years I’ve been extra cautious to avoid flying out in the winter months because—well, snow and ice!

Somehow, when I was making my reservations for this recent trip, the fact I was doing so during prime tornado season never entered my furry little consciousness.

The day I arrived, it was quite windy, but that’s par for the course in the Midwest. What I didn’t anticipate was that on the day I was leaving, the TV gurus were predicting severely stormy weather.

Everyone was tiptoeing around the “t” word at my sister’s house, though, and everyone assured me my plane would take off way before any “weather” hit.

It was sunny and clear when my sister dropped me off at the airport, which, by the way, is a small, lazy place where getting through security takes about five minutes—and travelers are greeted with a glass jar of hard candies.

Just as passengers were starting to board, the captain showed up and announced there were technical problems with the flight recorder, and then the cart of free snacks was wheeled out.

As the delays continued, I called my sister who quickly picked me up—and then I made reservations for the next day.

That evening the weather people looked worried as they spun out long explanations of what would be transpiring in the coming hours. Hint: The word starts with a “t” and ends with an “o”—and, no, it is not taco!

Yes, indeed, I was in the state where “The Wizard of Oz” was set, and we were under a tornado warning.

Did I mention that my sister and her husband don’t have a basement or storm shelter? So I had to wonder what they do when a tornado rumbles through.

“We just pray,” my sister said.

So that’s what I did as hefty chunks of hail battered the house and the wind shrieked. For some reason, I wasn’t afraid, because I figured, “Well, if this is it, this is it.” Which I guess is another way of saying, “Thy will be done, Lord.”

The tornado never came close enough to do any damage, and the next day I flew safely home. All in all, I felt a sense of relief because I had faced one of my big fears and survived.

However, let me assure you my “never, ever” list still includes riptides at the beach, flying bugs in my house—and, most definitely, alligators.

Artwork (oil on wood) by Jef Murray. Lorraine’s latest church mystery is “Death Dons a Mask.” Her email address is