When did epic come into vogue? I feel like it has been two, maybe three years—but I really wouldn't know, since my family has had our own usage of the word for 15 or 20 years. In Francis language, epic refers to something diverse, long-lived, and extraordinary. (Not so far from the dictionary definition, remarkably: "extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.") In our family, epic is most often used to describe particularly notable hikes, but not many hikes achieve "epic" status. In fact, when we were kids, my dad had to approve before we could officially say we'd had an epic day. When we hiked from breakfast till nearly dark, covered miles of changing territory, pulled out our rain jackets (only to shed them, later, and roll up our sleeves), saw rare wildlife, and trekked across rough terrain (think swift stream crossings, high mountain passes, and non-traceable trails)—then we'd experienced an epic day. An epic hike was something to brag about.
This week we had an epic thunderstorm. Not the kind that build up, boom enough times to convince me to shut down my computer, rain half an inch, and then roll away and let the sun shine as if nothing happened. No, this storm flashed, rumbled, and poured for a good 3 hours: from 1:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m.
My room has two big windows without any curtains. I don't want curtains, because a) I live in the country, on the second floor, with no tom-peepers within proximity; b) the pine trim around the windows makes perfect frames for the most gorgeous pictures on my wall: the views toward our pond, the back woods, and my parents' lovely orchard and gardens. Curtains would get in the way of my picture frames, and remind me that I'm inside.
In an early-morning thunderstorm, of course, it's hard to keep the light out without windows. But who wants to sleep through a show like that? The flashes came so often I couldn't even count seconds between them and the thunder. Which flash went with which boom? More than that, the thunder blended together for minutes at a time, like the continuous roar of a freight train. The clouds shone so brightly I could see the skeletons of the trees out back, their branches careening in the raging wind.
I lay awake, watching, reveling, smiling, basking, thanking God for the spectacular display and praying that the rain wouldn't flood our gardens and wash away all the topsoil.
And then I heard them. The frogs in our pond!
When I'd gone to bed, the frogs had been singing for the joy of a warm, summery night. Their choir could have drowned out an interstate highway (although, fortunately, the nearest one is 90-some miles away).
The choir had quit performing, now. Instead, two or three lone frogs sang cheerful solos.
BOOM! Peep, peep. BBBBRRRRROOOOOOOOOOMMMM. Peeeeeeep, peep, PEEP!
How could a frog sing through this storm? Shouldn't all animals be seeking shelter (even if they do like to be wet)?
But nothing could stop those courageous, happy little amphibians. Lightning, thunder, wind, pouring rain—these little critters would keep right on singing.
My prayers morphed into gratitude for the frogs. I giggled as I did it, but I asked Him to make me more like those slimy little singers. Would He please teach me to keep singing through the most fearsome storms? Could I learn that joy is not only for the warm and balmy, carefree times—but also for trials, uncertainty, and heartaches? When the rest of choir quits singing, would He give me the joy and courage to keep peeping?
I think He will. And it's going to be epic.