Like many people in North America, today I am watching the weather maps anxiously, wondering if the people I love in various places will be safe and sound. Though I am personally far from any swirling images, I wonder whether people I know, and those I have never met, will have a warm place to sleep and food to eat.
Extreme weather is such a clear reminder that we’re not in charge. Sure, people can and do buy batteries, generators, milk and bread, if they can afford to. People go vote early and take in their lawn furniture. People move to a home in a safer place if they have the opportunity to. They adjust their schedules, confer with their neighbors, stay close to pronouncements from public officials. But underneath all of this activity, what is fundamentally clear in these times is that people are not in charge of our planet.
Knowing that we’re not in charge is scary, as are these major weather systems. And yet there is fundamentally something positive about it as well. Someone tweeted today that Hurricane Sandy is saying, “Ignore global climate change in the debates, will you?” The truth behind that humor is that global climate change doesn’t care whether or not it is mentioned. It is on its own trajectory, as all weather is.
So, I pray that everyone is safe this week, that all have food to eat and a place to stay dry. I pray that houses and freeways, libraries and airports are not damaged. I pray that these storms pass over and quickly become nothing but a distant memory of another calamity that did not befall us.
But I also pray that the alertness we are all feeling, the clarity that we’re not in charge, the realization that we need to look out for everyone and hope that they will also look out for us, stays in place whether Hurricane Sandy blows by or hits land. These are life-affirming pieces of awareness, most vivid in times of crisis but useful every day of our lives.
For those of us in the U.S., it feels particularly important, in these last days before the election, to realize how much we are all in it together. Whatever the slogans of parties and candidates may be, in times like this, we all need each other to make it through—the practices of various parts of various levels of government, the generosity of business and churches and civic organizations, the ingenuity and initiative of indviduals.
May we all be safe, and may we all remember how much we need one another in these times, and in all times.