Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean leaving mass devastation in her wake. As she continued up into Florida, I wondered: Where do the birds go?
I have heard of animals having a sense or “radar” that alerts them to oncoming storms in time to get out of danger’s way. Birds can hear infrasound and also are sensitive to barometric pressure.
Being tuned into the changes of nature is a guiding principle that we too are part of. But how often do we hear the voice of inner guidance and take it to heart? Do we follow the call of Spirit or ignore the insight? Perhaps we’re too busy or tired or it’s inconvenient in some way to give our full attention as if our life depended on it.
Where do birds go in a hurricane?
Like their human watchers, they can either leave or take shelter and wait it out. Migrating birds may migrate sooner if a large storm is approaching during their annual spring or autumnal migration period. Other birds get caught in the outer edge of a hurricane and are let down far away from home.
Some birds actually take a ride in the eye of the storm! During many weather reports during Hurricane Irma, we saw real-time images of the storm with black spots in the eye that were reported to be birds. Surrounded by the utter chaos of high-speed winds and rain, for thousands of miles these birds flew calmly under the blue sky in the eye of the storm. Such storm riders are relocated in an often out-of-the-ordinary territory for them, to the discovery and delight of birdwatchers.
The birds in the eye aren’t in the proverbial calm before the storm or even the fragile peace afterward. They remain right in the center of the storm while it is happening.
Our own storms
I think of how easy it is to get caught up in the energy and chaos around us. We may start off tranquil, centered, and unaffected but often get triggered and pulled into the situation as it escalates. Our daily news can be a catalyst to a whirlwind of extreme emotions.
The birds are great teachers. We see how they hear the call—the insight or premonition, if you will—and respond with trust to their knowing whether to leave or hunker down.
How to stay centered and calm
Staying calm in the center of the storm is a metaphor for life, and a lifelong practice. In the midst of the madness, the turbulence and upheaval, a part of us is untouched: an infinite presence, stillness, emptiness. It is who we are, even when we are distracted from it.
We can remember through our breath, inhaling and exhaling, and the still space between. This is our eye of the storm and with each breath we and the world are new. Whether we arrive in the same place or what seems like thousands of miles away, it is an opportunity to begin anew, to see with new eyes possibilities for connection and compassion.
We can offer a hand, or accept another’s. We mourn our losses, repair what can be salvaged, and rebuild what has been destroyed. Together we co-create a new world in love, peace, brotherhood and sisterhood.