Waiting it Out….

I woke to brilliant sunshine reflecting off piles of snow. It’s hard to believe that 24 hours ago we were in the middle of a blizzard, snow coming down at two inches an hour.

But that’s how storms are. When you’re in the middle of them, you think they’ll never end.

The snow was slow in coming. At first light Friday I looked out my window and there was nothing but a hush and the ominous grey look of a storm yet to come. The morning was well underway when it picked up; medium size flakes, whirling around, slowly sticking to the cold ground.

Since Wednesday afternoon I had heard about what could be the “storm of the century”. With an already full refrigerator, matches, candles, Boggle, Bananagrams, and several one thousand piece puzzles, we had little to prepare — we were ready to wait it out.

And wait we did. I baked bread. Then I baked cookies. Then we did a puzzle. Then we played games. Then we watched movies. Then we played more games. And all the while we would periodically look out the window and comment on the storm.

But restlessness sinks in. Realization of the aftermath begins to accumulate. The ‘What ifs’ start pounding on the door. We begin to fray at the edges.

So we baked, read, watched movies, played games again. And again.

With storms there’s a lot of waiting.

How do you wait out a storm? How do you fill the empty space and empty time so the restlessness does not overpower?

Storms of the mind and soul are more difficult than storms of the weather. There are empty spaces, empty time, churning thoughts. And it’s during empty space that my mind can twist truth, empty time that my soul can turn sour.

While the tools of a weather storm are food, candles, matches, flashlights, full tank of gas, water, easily prepared foods – how can one prepare for storms of the soul? Walk through the storm without the mind going crazy with worry and fear?

What are the tools of soul storms?

Tears, Truth, and Time. Tears – those housekeepers of the soul that help us release fear and anxiety; truth – sharp piercing messages from the word of God that both sting and comfort; time – waiting it out, baking, reading, living through it even when you’re fraying at the edges – all those things that you do during a weather storm.

And one day we wake to brilliant sunshine, clarity, peace — the soul storm is over and it’s hard to believe that 24 hours before the soul was dark, swirling with turmoil.

Because that’s how soul storms are. When you’re in the middle of them, you think they’ll never end.

During the Storm
Blizzard 2013, Boston
After the Storm

Riding out the Hurricane in Rockport

We have always wanted to see Rockport during a storm. The picture of waves crashing mercilessly against the rocks, the high tides and the sheer strength of the ocean appeal to our love of adventure and more. It was unthinkable, then , that we would be anywhere else to go through ‘hurricane that would turn into tropical storm Irene’.

On Saturday Cliff walked to downtown Rockport and saw evidence of hurricane preparations everywhere. Signs hung in windows of stores warned shoppers that they would be closed Sunday due to the hurricane with written pleas to shoppers to “stay safe”.

I joined Cliff Saturday night. A light rain had begun and we were safe and ready with candles, matches, water, flashlights and food.

The ocean did not disappoint. From yards away we could see swells. Sea gulls gathered on rocks away from the waves resembled a gathering at a women’s guild exchanging gossip. One of my favorite places to sit, a natural bench formed out of rocks and usually dry, was wet from ocean spray. Twenty foot high waves crashed on the rocks, followed by smaller, and then larger still and the sound was quite magnificent.

Of course, it was magnificent and amazing because I was safe. I knew before setting foot outside that the storm was no longer a hurricane and I gauged the wind from the safety of a solid foundation. I was sure-footed and not afraid.

Even as I watched the strength of the storm, I realized that physical storms are easier than emotional ones. Often emotional storms are likened to physical – the “storms of life” and all that. But physical storms can be shared and can build community. There is a collective understanding that you will share stories of where you were during the storm, what you did and how strong it was when it finally came to your area.

Emotional storms and storms of the soul are not as easily shared and are often faced alone. It doesn’t matter how many candles and matches, water and food that you have. They do little to soften the hard part. I wish they could be weathered in the same way with anticipation, good food, and frequent phone updates.

As I watched the storm with ocean spray pelting my face I realized I’d rather go through a physical storm than an emotional one any day, but realistically they both come my way and sometimes with little warning. The challenge is to believe that God has power to calm both kinds of storms and grow in my understanding of safety as more than a physical foundation.

Enough philosophizing! Take a look at the pictures. You’ll see our only damage – a huge branch of a willow tree broken off into the neighbor’s yard. Today all traces except a few fallen branches were gone and the sky and ocean are bright blue.

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