I spent the better part of my childhood in the Panhandle of Texas and as a kid it never occurred to me to complain about dust storms…they were part of life, like walking to school, eating dinner with family, hanging out with friends.
I either wasn’t very attuned to life around me, or it never occurred to me to wonder about dust that was always in the air.
In fact, it wasn’t until I spent a year in Mississippi as a senior in high school that I became aware how dust had impacted my life. I began wearing contact lenses sometime in high school, and dust particles were a constant irritant, requiring the removal and reincertion of my contacts several times a day.
Then I was in humid south Mississippi, and hey, I never had to clean my lenses during the day. The light bulb went on, and it became apparent to my slow developing mind that dust had played a role in the inconvieniences of my life.
After returning to the Texas high plains at the end of my school year, I began to recognize that dust was everywhere. It didn’t necessarily come in darkened skies, blurred images, eye closing head winds. But instead it was just ‘there’, always in the air, always blowing, always settling, always present. No wonder we needed to dust daily. It wasn’t because we were dirtier than the people in Mississippi, it was because we had dust constantly.
And periodically, a dust storm would march across the cotton fields, whipping flags, sifting under doors, obliterating vision, and pounding against the house.
It would pass, and when you ventured outside it felt like a new day: the air was clearer, the wind not as fierce, and you thought, ‘oh, good, the storm is over. No more dust’. But alas, we continued to have dust in the air, settling on cars, covering book cases, leaving a gritty feeling as you walked across linoleum floors.
The storm had ended, but dust remained.
No wonder the people who settled these dusty plains were tough. They had to be in order to keep going in spite of the dirt.
They had grit…because that gritty dust became imbedded in their beings, and sneaked into their thought processes defining their every day activities. They became polished, buffed, brighter, and stronger. All because of the dust they endured and tolerated.
Dust storms may have hardened their determination, but all that dust loosened the hinges of their hearts. and left them with ability to adjust, accept, and welcome new folks who wandered the dusty plains.