The lightning hit a pole two houses away. The thunder hit us.
I think I said, "Holy Toledo!" At least, I hope I said nothing worse, as we all jumped out of our skin as the shock wave hit us.
That's something one does not experience very often--perhaps unless one lives in a stormy place like Queensland--the shock wave from thunder. But it is real and palpable (that is, you can feel it). The lightning flashed. I saw a broad slash in the sky through the window. Instantly, we heard and felt a wave of sound thumping into us. The most enormous crash of thunder. Richard would like to report that he did not care for it at all. Nor did his Nanna, who has never been a storm lover.
As the thunder rolled around us, a couple of us said, "WOW!" One or two others were less impressed.
Late in the afternoon we had seen this storm begin to build in the west beyond Brisbane. We watched from the windows of Judy's parent's house on the Sunshine Coast as the sky darkened and the fireworks began.
It went on for hours. Great flashes of light. Every few seconds another enormous sheet of light across the horizon. Every minute or so a staggering display of jagged lightning. Sometimes a bold strike that came out of the clouds and zapped something on the ground. Sometimes lightning rushing between clouds. Once or twice a multi-dimensional display of craggy lines of lights radiating in every direction.
But no thunder. The storm was far away.
After two hours the lightning lit up half the sky.
I tried to take a photo and then a video. How pathetic! I'm sure it is possible to record such magnificence on film or videotape. How to do it is beyond my meagre talent.
I felt I could watch it for hours. And I did. Judy came out to find me sitting on the boot of the car looking into the sky.
"Isn't it wonderful?" I said rapturously.
"It's a storm," she said, as if explaining something to a foreigner.
"Yes," I pressed on, "but the power, the magnificence, the divine extravagance..."
"Such a waste of effort." Judy wasn't about to join in my games. She's a practical woman. Sitting in the open while a storm approached did not seem the most sensible thing a grown man should be doing.
Peacefully, I came inside and watched the storm from the bathroom window with Jamie.
Earlier that day I had taken some photos using the electronic flash. At 5 metres the flash gun throws a pretty bright light for a tiny fraction of a second. Then its power is exhausted. The Everreadys take a moment before they are ready again.
Point the flash gun at the clouds and the flash would not reach much beyond the roof of the house. (That's something that has always amused me at concerts. People who take flash pictures from the audience with flash guns only powerful enough to light six rows in front of them. To light the stage, you would need a light bigger than you could carry).
Yet here is God displaying his own power. Each sheet of lightning, illuminating half the entire sky, hundreds of square miles of clouds!
And God is so powerful he has oodles of it to waste. We didn't need all this lightning. Truth is, we didn't need any of it. The few raindrops were welcome, but we would have been quite happy to have them the way we usually do in Melbourne -- in a quiet drizzle.
God is so powerful he can waste it having a bit of fun in the clouds.
For someone like me, on vacation, it is important to realise that God sometimes takes time off for a bit of self-indulgent fun. It's recreation. A way of re-creating ourselves after days and months of being more serious.
I know many have had some holidays over these past few weeks. I hope you have found them enjoyable. I've been having fun. And, I'm glad to report, so has God.