When You Walk through a Storm…

As I stepped out my front door this morning for a power walk around the neighborhood, I was taken aback by the rising storm. Just like that, a song I learned in junior high school came to mind and I began to sing it internally. 

When you walk through a storm

Keep your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the storm

At the end of the storm is a golden sky

And the sweet…something and something and something

 I couldn’t remember all the words, but the part I did remember brought a smile to my face.

Walk on through the wind

Walk on through the rain

Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on

Walk on

With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone

 I took in a deep breath as the main phrase filled me up.  I remembered vividly the music teacher and glee club director who taught us the song.  A smile curled my lips as I remembered Mrs. Overstreet, as heavy as Aretha Franklin before Aretha was heavy. Mrs. Overstreet was very passionate about her work and the messages she intended to impart.

 “Sing!” she demanded, pounded the piano keys.

“You will NE-VEEEEEER walk alone!”

“Louder!”

“You will NEEEEEE-VEEEEER walk alone!” We sang as loud as our voices could stretch.

The memory of the song and the woman who taught it to us quickened my pace as I race-walked through my neighborhood.  The winds whipped up dry leaves around me. Clouds darkened the sky. And the trees whistled, swayed, and danced to the rhythm set by the pending storm. I replayed the song in my mind. When you walk through a storm keep your head up high. But when I glanced down I noticed a shiny nickel and was reminded of another childhood treasure.

My uncles used to tell me, “Don’t take no wooden nickels.” I was delighted by the memory. I didn’t ask them what they meant, because I thought I knew.  A girl in my neighborhood had become the fool of the group because she had taken a wooden nickel from one of the boys in exchange for a sexual favor. We were only eight to ten years old and some of the kids our age or slightly older played a “nasty game” where a girl would let a boy hump her for a nickel. A “hump” was a boy’s bumping his pelvic area into the girl’s pelvic. For a dime he could hump her butt one time. It’s ironic that even at that age, even with strict parents, which most of us had, we found ways to test the taboo and to put a monetary value on sexual gratification and submission. Even at that age at least one of the girls, the one who took the wooden nickel and became the joke of the hood, learned to pay closer attention to what she was giving and getting. When I picked up the shiny nickel on my power walk this morning, I was reminded to pay closer attention to my gifts and exchanges.

Walk on through the wind

I turned the corner and noticed a penny on the ground. Yes, it was a shiny penny, not a dull, dirty one, ironically.  I put it in my pocket, too.  It didn’t generate any memories or inspiration. It was just a shiny penny that could close a sale at the grocery store I planned to walk to later. 

As the wind got stronger, I felt charged and wished I could breathe it in and harness for a flight, as if I could spread my wings and lift up like a bird. I breathed in deeply, thanking God for the fresh air, the charge, and the memories.

 Mrs. Overstreet died some years ago, but the lesson she taught us through a secular song was resurrected in my heart today. Our teacher loved Broadway musicals and used them to connect us to the whiter world outside our nearly all-black one.  This song she taught us for our graduation, had been written for the musical Carousel that opened on Broadway in 1945.  A song written by white men in the 1940s, taught by my school teacher in the 1970s, could still inspire me in the new millennium. Now that’s classic, I thought. Thunder clapped, then roared.  The skies opened up and the first sprinkling of what promised to be a downpour delighted me as I made my way back inside.

I looked up the lyrics on the Internet to fill in the words I had forgotten. Once in cyberspace I saw a news headline saying 250 people have been killed in storms ripping through southern states in the past couple of days; hundreds were injured. As the skies dumped torrential rains outside my windows and I hard the loud clash of thunder, I thought about natural disasters that tore up whole cities, states and rocked whole countries.

How blessed I am to walk through a storm.  To draw inspiration from a storm because it has not threatened my life and the very foundation beneath me. Even before the storm ended, I heard birds singing in the rain. Within minutes this little storm would be over, and I will step outside looking for a rainbow.  Then I’ll find a reputable charity through which to make donations to help others who have suffered life-flattening storms.

Keep your head up high.

Here are the lyrics:

When you walk through a storm

Keep your chin up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark.

At he end of the storm

Is a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of a lark.

 

Walk on through the wind,

Walk on through the rain,

Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.

Walk on, walk on

With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone,

You’ll never walk alone.

Now sing! Just kidding. Here’s wishing you inspiration from the storms in your life and from your fondest memories as well. A yoga instructor once told our class she loves a storm because it seems to clean the air.  How have storms, real and figurative, inspired you? Does something you learned from a teacher – or coach – in your youth inspired as an adult?

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