One of our long-standing family traditions is to attend the Indianapolis Symphony's Independence Day concert at Conner Prairie Farm near Indianapolis. The first trip Colin and I made to this concert was 21 years ago when I was seven months pregnant with Bethany. The crowd with us varies, although it always includes my mom and step-dad and my brother and his family.
We take fried chicken and little rolls, fresh fruit, cheese & crackers, a few veggies, and of course suitable wine! If we're lucky my sister-in-law, Kim, makes chocolate-covered strawberries. Colin and the kids and I arrive before the gates open to line up with the other die-hard crazy people so that we can get the exact spot as soon as the gates open. We then bake on our spread out blankets--because the temperature is invariably in the 90s--until the rest of the crew begins to arrive a couple of hours later.
The concert is generally held on three consecutive nights, ending on the fourth. We usually go on one of the earlier nights, with the fourth as a backup date in case of bad weather. Last year we got through half of the concert before we were cleared out because of a thunderstorm that was on the way. This year Bethany's work schedule made the fourth our only option, because none of us could fathom going without her. As the day drew nearer the weather outlook was looking bad: seventy percent chance of thunderstorms, huge storm systems to the west.
I don't usually pray for much of anything, unless it's big. I've always felt like I shouldn't "bother" God with the mundane and trivial. (Although some sermons and Bible studies I've been hearing are getting me past this way of thinking.) But I prayed for good weather. And prayed. And prayed. I told my mom to pray. I told my kids to pray.
An evening like this may not seem like it should be that important, but this has been our one consistent family tradition. Everything else has flexed and shifted, but except for the year I was eight months pregnant and living 400 miles away, we've been there. We have had a rough past four months and I think I almost felt like I couldn't lose this, too. Not this year.
So we loaded up the car and drove to Indy. We waited in line, with less than a tenth of the usual crowd. We spread our blankets. We bought some kettle corn and we sweated in the heat and humidity. At 6:30 as storm clouds gathered in the west a voice came over the PA system and said, "We are in contact with the National Weather Service, so far so good." We ate our food and settled in for the beginning of the concert. There were more clouds and another announcement.
At the intermission a man sitting behind us was talking to someone on the cell phone. He said--and we found out later that this was indeed the case--that the storms had passed about ten miles south of us and about ten miles north.
So we got to enjoy our music, our food, the fireworks, and most importantly, our family. I don't know if the beautiful evening at Conner Prairie had anything to do with our prayers, but I felt profoundly grateful.