Still in Stormy Times

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

[A version of this reflection was posted in 2017]

As a furious gale arose, waves beat into the boat threatening to swamp it.
But he was asleep in the stern, so they woke him crying,
“Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?”
He awoke, rebuked the wind, and told the sea, “Peace! Be still!”

Mark 4:37-39

How can we be still, yet still be in the storms that surround us?

Disasters never fail
to move us,
or draw out the best in us.

For who can watch
a person, creature, community
or environment endure devastation,

without being disturbed,
touched, moved to connect,
and make some effort to alleviate suffering?

Innately human inclinations toward
compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice
are essential expressions of divine likeness.

Holy One who is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and good to all.
Whose compassion extends over all creation.

Psalm 145:8-9

of nature and lives
grace us with hard-holy questions:

Why do terrible things happen?
Why do the most vulnerable suffer most grievously?
What might happen if we let our lives become entangled with theirs?

As tragedies compound,
we strain to maintain
an attentive, focused and caring response.

Indeed, it only when winds die
and waters recede,
that the journey toward mending begin.

And how can storm-tossed people
sustain hope,
without a tsunami of human, moral and financial support?

We humans need hope.
We can survive without many of life’s physical, intellectual, and emotional realities,
but we cannot survive without hope.

Glenn Hinson

Catastrophe uncovers
a collective reservoir
of untapped resources.

We are stronger,
deeper, more caring
that we imagine.

Yet, we must confront other,
more insidious, storm tides;
fearful forces intent on driving and keeping us apart.

Divisive and distracting tempests
of self-preoccupation, grievance, cynicism
erode our capacity to care.

Unchallenged, such ideological influences
send us spinning frenetically,
beyond the reach of compassionate engagement.

I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth …
There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair…
Our dreams will sometimes be shattered, and our hopes blasted.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Compassion cries to be unleashed,
mercy needs to be nurtured,
forgiveness begs for release.

Such truest reflections of our deepest nature
provide generous immunity,
against powers determined to pull us apart.

We are made for togetherness.
We are made for all the beautiful things that you and I know.
We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders.

Desmond Tutu

May the disturbing-consoling Spirit
keep folding us all back together
till we become a shelter in the eye of the inevitable storm.


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