Sandy’s Mess

Five days after the hurricane Sandy there are so many thoughts and feelings. Sadly, the current news cycle is focused on fights over gas and protests about LIPA’s pace of work. Not to excuse bad behavior in any form, but I can understand the frustration. This is often the result when sadness and fear meet loss of hope.

There is certainly enough sadness and fear to go around. The storm itself was a terrifying experience. The freight train sound of wind as we sat in the dark wondering if a tree would fall on our house brought chilling fear. To wake up to trees down everywhere and no power for anyone was scary, but as the news spreads we learn of those who have lost homes and lives to this hurricane and it is heartbreaking. In addition, the destructive power of nature to affect communities so close to home removes a veneer of security that we had naively built for our piece of mind. In the moments when I can quiet my mind to listen to my heart the tears begin to fall over all this loss.

One could easily let these feelings ferment into their toxic by-products of suspicion and anger. This seems to be the case for many around us. And, though the ill-behaved capture the news, in order to sell ads, there are many more examples of compassion and care around us all the time.

I am grateful for all the people who put their own comfort aside to serve others: first responders who were up all night during the storm to keep us safe, medical personnel who have worked long hours all week, repair people who are putting it back together, the workers at gas stations and stores and on the roads who are keeping us all going. We tend to forget that just doing a job that needs to be done is helping others.

I also give thanks for the friends and neighbors who just stop to see if we need help. A call or visit when the world narrows down to ones one home provides a connection to the larger world that brings hope and cheer.

Hope, a deep current of trust and compassion, is present through the Holy Spirit. There are some who question God’s role in such a disaster. I have no problem with that—nature has no morality and God does not spend any time guiding storms. The role of faith is to connect us to the larger history of God’s people and to gain inspiration for the long term. Many have had been dealt much worse and their spirits have stayed strong and they have kept their focus on building love and care in our world. God’s spirit supports and inspires us to continue to show love and fight for justice. This is not always easy.

I know that as our circumstances begin to overwhelm—it is hard with such big and lasting loss—it is easy to getting angry or to withdraw. Hurricanes do not have morals, but humans may, and may not. In these taxing days I take deep breaths and pray for God’s peace to fill my mind and heart. I admit it doesn’t always work, but the more I practice my spiritual disciplines the more they keep me on the road to care and compassion. And that is what we need most if we are all going to band together to rebuild our towns, and, prayerfully, make them even better. With God’s spirit we may indeed live to the highest examples of the human spirit and build the sort of human resolve and community that provides real safety and security.

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