A Sign of Grace Amidst the Tornado’s Debris

01 Feb

I talked to the Rev. Johnny Tuttle soon after the tornado roared through Radium Springs on Sunday afternoon and I wondered aloud about the Stewarts. The Rev. Bill Stewart preceded Tuttle as rector of St. John and St. Mark’s and is now retired. He and his wife Sharon live nearby in the same neighborhood.

Johnny told me that whatever had happened when the tornado hit, Bill was probably more worried about his quail than his house at that moment. Bill had been raising 17 quail who lived in a two-foot high pen that sat on a three and a half-foot stand designed so that Bill could tend them from his wheelchair.

Later when I caught up with Bill, I passed on what Johnny had said about the quail. At that exact moment, Bill allowed, he was probably worried about his house which was enjoying more pine-scented freshness than usual with the trees that had been sheared about 15 feet off the ground and landed in his living room. But he added that within about ten minutes, he was worrying about his quail.

The only thing clear after the storm was that the whole pen and stand were buried under the debris of three oak trees. Either the storm lifted the pen and dropped it, or had just simply crushed it. By Monday, Bill’s son, Ryan, and a friend decided that if a bird was hurt, but not dead, they needed to know and take care of it. The two decided to do what they could to find out.

When they returned, Ryan’s friend said, “Bill I’ve got something for you.” He dropped a cold, wet quail egg in his hand and as Bill stared in wonder at the egg, Ryan told him that all 17 quail had survived the storm. Bill told me, “That egg looked like a rainbow.” The birds were in mud, with no food or water and looked quite provoked by the whole ordeal. Yet every bird survived. They have been steadily producing eggs since then, every egg a new rainbow in the wake of a tragic storm.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary

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