A Word to the Spiritual Seekers by Don Murray

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The lesson of humility during a storm

In the grey of the morning I stepped out the door for the short walk to pick up the paper.

A few steps along the way I became aware of an eerie silence. The trees were standing in pristine stillness. No breeze swayed their branches. Nor was there the song of any bird cheering the morning quiet. Nature was hushed, awaiting what was to come.

 

As I walked back down the lane, paper in hand, a few flakes floated lazily to earth. A puff of wind stirred the branches momentarily. Again the silence. But it was short-lived. Soon a breeze swirled the falling snow and the moan of wind in the branches broke the spell; and yet another Wednesday storm descended.

 

The lake and all beyond disappeared behind a wall of whirling white. As the wind gusts increased in ferocity the barely visible tree by the deck bent dangerously close to breaking. Then it whipped upright, but only to be pummelled again and again. It proved sturdier than I thought and still stands, gracing us with its presence.

 

Even in retirement, there is something special about a storm day. One can sit and read, or putter about, but the relentless wind is always there providing a fear-tinged background. What if a tree falls on the house? What if the power goes out? (Our generator is working, thanks to good neighbour Matt.) Is all well with our neighbours and loved ones? What about the linemen, the snowplow drivers, the police, the first responders and all those looking after our welfare and safety?  What about those who don’t have shelter from the storm? 

 

Beyond the awesomeness of the storm and the concerns that it brings there is a deepening that happens. The usual plans and activities of the day are thwarted. We are thrown back on ourselves. The adrenalin flows a little faster. Our bodies are instinctively preparing for any emergency that might arise. If nothing happens our minds may soar into realms unknown – unless one is a parent.

 

A storm is a great lesson in humility. We are captive to nature’s power. We learn a little more deeply that we have no control over what it may bring. Modern meteorology can warn us for days that a storm is coming, but there is nothing we can do to stop it. We can prepare, hunker down, await, but come it will. 

 

In this age where so much of our lives are disconnected from the earth and the world of nature, it is reassuring to know that nature is there in its awesome power and glory. Paul reminds us that we are “of the earth, earthy” (I Corinthians 15:47 KJV). Nature is our home, our environment, our creator. We belong to the earth, the earth does not belong to us.

 

The storm can help us know that we are from the earth, and the earth is from the stars, and the stars are from that great burst of energy which is the source of everything that is our universe. “You are a child of the universe.”

 

We are powerless to stop the immediate storm but we are not powerless in deciding how we deal with the earth and our relationship to it. Indeed, the storm may have happened because we have not treated the earth as we would a beloved parent. 

 

That is the great lesson in humility that we must now learn. To unlearn the attitude that we are masters of the earth and can use and abuse as we choose could take ages. But we don’t have ages. 

Witness the latest UN report. We have what one writer of the report called “a closing window of opportunity.” Hopefully the day is not far off when the rising concern for the environment will reach critical mass and quickly become a major concern of all humanity. Governments and corporations take note.

 

Our loving and responsible use of the earth is not just a material problem that can be solved by a new pipeline or a technical break through. It is a spiritual problem that requires a transformation of attitude and approach. Again, governments and corporations take note.

 

The storm has passed into a blurred memory, and hopefully warmer days of spring will come and lift our souls and spirits. May there remain a humble awe of the grandeur and power of nature.

 

Don Murray is a retired united minister. He lives in Shortts Lake.

Organizations: UN

Geographic location: Shortts Lake

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