In the Midst of the Storm
Many of us live lives in the midst of the storm.
Winds and waves often threaten to knock us down or blow us off course. Thunder and lightning distract us and feed our fears. We are never certain whether the next crashing wave or gusting wind will be our last.
Some of us are desperate to find sacred stillness in the midst of the storm.
For some of us, the politics of this election are the storm in which we find ourselves. The apparently constant campaign advertising and public displays of argument threaten to be too much for us. This election feels like a political storm which never stops building and never goes away.
Other people are living in the midst of the storm of their families. They are faced with wave after wave of conflict and disputes with people they feel they are supposed to love. Many of us are experiencing the storms of unwanted responsibilities and expectations. Some of us see the coming holidays as another series of the storms on the horizon.
Each of us knows what it is like when we feel the storms coming. The pressure builds and we look for shelter from the storm.
We may live in the midst of the storm within ourselves. The pounding rain and violent winds pummel us and threaten to break us apart.
There are people who experience spiritual life as part of their storm. The spiritual life storm within them makes it more and more difficult, more and more painful to find their way.
How do we find sacred stillness in the midst of the storm? Where can we turn to search for a safe, sacred space where we can listen to stillness?
Stillness in the Midst of the Storm
We may see ourselves as surrounded or filled by powerful storms.
If only we could find a safe place to wait out our storms. Is there a place where we can find refuge and protection from the storms which rage all around us and within us?
When we watch coverage of a tropical storm coming ashore there are two ways of looking at them. The coverage alternates between seeing storms from space and watching someone standing in them. The two ways of seeing storms each give us their own understanding of how powerful storms can be.
One view shows us numbers which measure wind speed and categories. The other shows us evidence of the damage a storm can cause.
It is possible for us to watch a storm hit the map and almost feel we have some control over it. We can measure it and compare it to other storms. Watching a storm devastate buildings and people’s lives, we almost experience being in the midst of the storm.
In some ways, watching states turn colors during an election is like watching a storm from space. We can feel we understand what is happening in ways we cannot when we are arguing on social media.
It can be challenging for us to listen to sacred stillness at the moment a storm is battering us.
People who live in areas where storms are common plan and prepare for the next storm. They have thought about how they intend to protect themselves from a storm. Some of them evacuate and others try to stockpile enough to survive an emergency.
Our practice of listening to sacred stillness is how we prepare to find stillness in the midst of the storm.
Listening to Sacred Stillness in the Midst of the Storm
It helps if we are not trying to listen to sacred stillness for the first time in the midst of the storm. Our planning and preparation includes building our skills before we need them in an emergency.
We are not trying to face our storms by either evacuating or buying an emergency generator.
Our storms are both within us and around us. We are in the midst of storms which are not unique, distinct events at a particular time on a certain day. The storms with which we live stay with us, ebbing and flowing over time. As we get caught up in them they grow and become stronger in our lives.
We practice listening to stillness in the midst of the storms we face every day.
The stillness helps transform our storms and we experience them in a new way.
Listening to sacred stillness gives us a new perspective in the midst of the storm. We begin to see them from a distance, not from the direct devastation as they impact us.
Finding Stillness in the Midst of the Storm
We take time to sit, close our eyes, and listen in the midst of the storm.
The sacred stillness shows us how to experience our storms in different ways. Whether our storms are politics or family members or work or anything else, listening gives us another side.
For some of us listening to sacred stillness gives us the permission we need to evacuate from the storms. We may find ourselves in the midst of the storm and realize the best thing for us to do is get away. There may be storms we can avoid or escape by making changes in our lives.
Other storms call for different responses. Listening to sacred stillness in the midst of the storm can be one of the tools we need to face our gathering storms directly. Sacred stillness can be how we need to prepare like reinforcing our windows or stockpiling food and water.
In the midst of the storm, with winds howling round us, we experience it in new ways. We listen to sacred stillness in the midst of the storm and we are transformed.
Where are we in the midst of the storm today?
When will we listen to sacred stillness in the midst of the storm this week?
[Image by mrpbps]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.