INTO THE STORM
INTO THE STORM
For the most part I live a rather sedate life. I rarely take physical risks but when storms come, I simply love going out into the midst of them. The raw power of stormy weather is an excitement that can only be experienced in that setting. I even like it when the harsh wind pushes hard, and I have to lean forward to walk.
Storms change the landscape during their time. A good powerful snowstorm whites it all out as though the horizon has disappeared. It is as though nothing exists beyond six feet in front of me.
I am no longer as brave (or foolish) as I once was when I would go off the trail into the forest at the height of the storm. In the famous “Super Storm Sandy” in 2012, I was out in places I should not have been. I leaned into trees that were swaying and even creaking loudly in the grasp of the wind. It was a unique thrill but that was a while ago. I am more conservative now. And yet I still go.
I stay at home looking out my large picture window. Sometimes that is enough, and I remain there until I can no longer tolerate experiencing the storm second hand. I lecture myself that “the authorities” have asked all “nonessential personnel” to stay at home. I am supposed to be responsible and yet the storm calls me. (And who is to say when I am responding I am not essential.) The storm says, “Graham, come out of the safety zone. Meet this directly.” I HAVE to get outside into it to feel its rawness and power. And once I am out, I want to keep going around one more corner for one more picture or one more swaying tree.
Nature is another one of those things, places, experiences which is often calm, peaceful, beautiful but it can also be violent, powerful threatening. I like nature in both of these times. When I am there my soul gets cranked up with the storm. It loves the intensity, which I feel viscerally, sensorially, physically in my body. It is not primarily an experience of thought or emotion. I get those looking out a window but actually getting into it for me changes the experience into something much more real and fierce.
Really good storms don’t come very often the next one might be two or three years away and my walking might be more limited by then or I might be satisfied by just retreating into my living room where things are comfortable and warm. Something might have tamed this impulse in me by then. So, I have to get out into the experience. When I do, what counts is being present to this untamed power.
I love seeing the birch trees on top of Mount Wachusett bend and sway. It is worth getting drenched for the view. If fact getting drenched part of the fun. Occasionally, the wind blows enough that I think either the trees or I could be pulled from our moorings. The storm is utterly indifferent to my presence and to other human enterprise especially the need to commute to work. In the face of this our plans are irrelevant. The storm generates within me an indifference to the pettiness of my concerns where I experience an inner silence that is only aware of the storm.
Waves crashing near me are exciting though I am very cautious and keep a respectful distance. When I was younger, I would have been the person out at the edge now where I am today is enough.
The ancient Greeks developed an entire pantheon to explain Storms! The natural world seemed so irrational, chaotic and violent they reasoned that those who created it must be equally irrational and capricious. Today we have the opportunity to see things somewhat differently since we know of atmospheric conditions and patterns. But nevertheless, the storms become an instrument of Grace when they are experienced as a vehicle of coming more fully alive. Just because we know the scientific aspect of this does not mean they are any less spiritual. Spirit is present in the process of coming alive. The storms are a spiritual blessing.