Described with thunder

Poetic metaphor is stealthy. Magnificent references can be mistaken for sleepy flourishes. Beware of this, for not all metaphors are meant to be delicate.

Back in the day, we tacked Niagara Falls onto the end of too much vacation. Bad move. I still hope not to be remembered by my kids for that visit. Two weeks ago, feeling redemptive, we again stopped at Niagara, this time on our way to Rochester. Here’s what we discovered.

Niagara is actually three falls, the smallest of which is Bridal Veil Falls. Picture a grape tucked between an apple and a watermelon. At the foot of Bridal Veil Falls is a wooden deck that takes you right up to the spray from the edge of the smallest of the three falls. When you first see it, you think, I paid money for this? And now they’re making me wear a rain slicker and plastic flip flops? Huh.

But then something happens. You see people coming back from the end of the deck — and they’re soaked. And you notice that, the closer you get, the harder it is to hear each other talk. In fact, the people ahead of you are screaming and shrieking and holding their hands over their faces.

And the closer you get, the more wet you become, until there’s so much water flying around you can’t even keep your eyes open. And, despite the crowds, there’s no one actually standing on the final platform — the one right up against the spray from the edge of the smallest of the three falls. Taking a group selfie is out of the question. You’re all just shouting over the thunder and trying to keep your eyes open against the force of a fire hose driving you back from the edge.

Some of us forced our way up to the railing and faced into the torrent — but not long enough to count to ten, for the pain and the pounding and the thunder and the force of the spray in your face makes it impossible to see or get any closer.

Imagine what it would be like to step into the full force of six million cubic feet of water crashing down from over a hundred feet above. Who could stand against such unrelenting power?

Now, picture the full force of this poetic metaphor:

But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24).

When we petition the Almighty to bring justice or righteousness to a land, people, or situation, we are not tiptoeing about. Not at all.

Bridal Veil Falls