Why I Felt Terribly and Beautifully Small

We drove through Kansas.  All day.

The great thing about driving through Kansas is that you can see for miles in all directions.

The bad thing about driving through Kansas is that there’s nothing to see for miles in all directions.  Except the fields and the sky.  You feel terribly and beautifully small on the prairie. 

So I thought a lot.  I thought about novels I might write.  I thought about stopping the car and walking way out onto the prairie just to see what adventure might find me.  I was in need of an adventure after 12 hours of driving in Kansas (see above for the bad thing about driving through Kansas).

Well, an adventure did find me.

A storm brewed to the left of us, and as we drove into the town of Hays, lightening struck the prairie.  The sky became an eerie dark and the atmosphere felt heavy and tinged with. . . something.  We pulled into a restaurant for dinner, and that’s when I saw the television set mounted over the bar.

The ticker on the bottom urged residents of Hays to seek immediate shelter.  The waiters and waitresses went to secure the windows and pull down great wooden shades.  A loudspeaker sounded to request that we leave the restaurant and seek shelter–underground.

Shelter?  Where would we go?  Then we heard that the cars in the parking lot were imploding.  Windshields were blowing apart in the 75 mile per hour wind.  A giant semi-truck went belly-up on the road to the west.

We stood inside the restaurant, stunned.  We tried to stay calm for the children.  My husband checked on our minivan and reported that it was secure, and then we moved to the innermost part of the restaurant–away from windows. 

Then it was over.  The storm passed.  Just like that, it passed.  Other diners comforted us that “this was regular for Kansas” and that “it was just a little storm.”  One man–a complete stranger–even brought his phone over to show me a picture on the radar of how small the storm was.

But I was the one who felt so very small.  A prairie storm can humble a family and bring it to its knees. 

Imploding cars and overturned trucks.  Lightening dancing around the prairie on tiptoes.  This was my Kansas adventure.

Journal:  When was the last time you felt terribly and beautifully small?

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  1. Nature has a way of pruning down my humanity. You think you're big stuff — until faced with an open sky on a montana night, or the spread of the ocean, or the deep Grand canyon.


  2. Ahhhh, Kansas. Our son is a prof at KU. (PhD from Penn State). He is the dad of our 2 oldest grands. I-70 is familiar territory. 🙂

    On your way home make sure you don't miss the 5 legged cow, biggest ball of twine and other amazing KS offerings … all advertised along the interstate. 🙂