I practiced one of the oldest ways of storm forecasting today: I watched the leaves. As families hurried into church under a darkening sky this morning, my children clung to either side of me as I welcomed newcomers.
I looked out at that smolder of sky and clouds. Everything in sight seemed dark and braced for the worst.
Everything, that is, except the leaves. My daughter pointed outside and said, "Mama, the leaves are dancing." I smiled at the verb choice.
It was beautiful to watch. Dry leaves on the ground swirled up in this ballet of movement. And in the distance, every tree turned its leaves up, anticipating the storm. My friend who reads botany told me that the undersides of leaves contain stomata, or little pores, that help soak in moisture. When they turn up like that, they position themselves to receive nourishment from the sky.
"Can they turn themselves up?" I wondered aloud. I imagined little leaf arms that flexed tiny muscles to turn those leaves over. That would be so cool! So flair!
It turns out that the leaves don't do any of this themselves. The coming storm creates changes in pressure that actually move up from the ground and turn the leaves upside down. The atmosphere conspires, it seems, to force these leaves to receive from the heavens.
I looked again at those leaves, enabled like that with no effort on their part, to receive. As I turned to enter the sanctuary, I considered what it takes to stir those fallen leaves to dance and those branch leaves to receive. I know God brings the storm, the pressure system, to invite my undersides to be exposed, to turn me to the right position. From that place in the storm, I'm in the best place to receive what heaven pours down. Only from there can I dance in that particular storm's wind.