On one January1st, shortly before dawn, a little boy sat up in his cot, closed his eyes, and began to pray for the New Year to be a kinder, gentler year for his family and for everyone else who lived in his town as well. In July or August of the previous year, a tornado had blasted through the town, knocking down many of the houses, so many that half the towns population had to live in what had once been a school gymnasium, now a temporary shelter. The town had then begun to rebuild, and there were now almost enough houses either under constructions or finished and ready to move into. Then came November, and along with it a blinding snow and ice storm, forcing a stop to the rebuilding process. Some of the newly constructed houses had fallen down under the weight of the snow and ice, and the town had temporarily been without power until the beginning of December. The little boy's mother and father had told him that they were next on the list to move into one of the newly completed houses, which was supposed to happen in the coming January. The boy began to look forward to living in a house with walls, doors and windows and maybe a new swing in the back yard. He still remembered swinging in the old plank swing that had hung from the maple tree behind his old house before the tornado knocked it down.
Halfway through December, the families still living in the gym were informed that a severe snow and ice storm was once again predicted to move through the area, and the scheduled moved into new houses for January would have to be postponed yet again. So, the boy sat and prayed for help, not just for himself and his family, but for all the families in the town, especially for those who had lost members of their families, even those with four legs. Later that morning, the boy's parents, along with all the other adults in the shelter, watched a weather forecast on the one working television in the corner of the gym. They watched the radar showing the storm moving closer to their location with grim faces. Suddenly, just before 9AM that day, the weather pattern appeared to change. The weatherman was handed a note, which he read to himself, and then looked up at the camera with a strange look on his face. "To all our viewers out there," he began, "this breaking weather news just in. Our latest radar sweet has shown that the storm has begun to veer off its projected path and now appears to be traveling well to the north and south of us. There has evidently been a very rare shift in the jet stream pattern, and it looks like the storm may miss our area entirely."
Everyone watching the forecast looked stunned, and then, gradually, everyone began to clap and then hug each other. The children in the shelter, along with the boy, ran up to find out what all the noise was about. The boy's parents came up to him and explained about the storm veering away. The boy began to smile, then looked up at his parents and said, "It worked!"
"What worked, son?" asked his father.
"I prayed for help for all of us this morning, and I think somebody was listening," said the boy. His mother and father looked at each other for a long moment, and then they began to smile, too.