Catastrophes and Omens

Catastrophes and Omens April 16, 2019

Catastrophe, whether man-made or nature’s fierce power, will cause us to stop and think. Some may fret and worry, some may feel galvanized. You may get the moment of clarity that screams “be in the moment NOW!” and gain knowledge from that experience. However you react, it’s the Human Experience. Our beliefs can also help shape our reactions, whether life-long revelations or recent.

Photo from VOA News

As I type this, fires had ravaged two major structures from two major religions. Both affected my heart, as it did for many other people around the world.  I likened it to the universal feeling of 9/11, but this time thankfully without any casualties.

Catastrophes such as these can make us pause and stop. The world whirls still and we watch events unfold with sadness, and comfort each other from near or afar via social media. For a brief moment, the world seems united, and we seem to finally grasp the idea that we are one, all together in the same boat, the same life on this planet in space.

It doesn’t last long, however. Soon comments come in, some gloating because they don’t like that religion and liken it to the fall of patriarchy. Some get fearful and say it’s an omen. Some are cynical and shrug that this is the way the world ends, “not with a bang, but a whimper.” (T.S. Eliot) Many compared this to the Tower card in the Tarot, the Tower Time (H. Byron Ballard). I respect all opinions, and it got me thinking about omens in general.

I lived through the 1977 blackout in NYC , and it’s a treasured family story, because at the time, my grandmother was staying with us. She had survived WWII in Berlin, Germany and I can still see her, sitting on the edge of the bed, saying calmly, “The Russians are coming…” No doubt reliving her own experiences, and as a teenager, I respected her words but was silently laughing inside. Yeah right, the Russians (not without a split second of wondering if she was right, because after all, she was my grandmother and knew everything). For her, omens were plenty and part of life. A hiccup? Someone was thinking about you. Palm itchy? Money was coming your way. She spouted these off as easily as she discussed the latest meal. Omens were seen in nature, in human behavior, and in the news. She was both gloom and doom and yet one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. She had to be, because that was how she survived.

Survival. We all survive horrors in our life, whether universal or personal. How do we deal with it? How have we been affected by them? Do you see omens everywhere? My first thought as the first well-loved structure burned was a bit cynical and monetary: they hired less-than-skilled laborers, who were careless, and that’s what started all this. Greed. That’s the cause of this catastrophe. Am I right? Who knows. Did I see this as an omen? Not really, but that’s the way my mind works. I did think of my grandmother and wondered what she would have thought about this moment.

My own omens are related to nature, as I tend to be very cynical about human behavior. As I like to say, we do stupid all on our own. But nature? She makes her presence known, whether by flood, tsunami, earthquake, swarms of animals or birds, volcanoes, the list goes on.

So, what to do with these omens? Cower in fear, feel bitter, what? These moments ground and center me more than I thought possible. I focus on the here and now, light a candle, hold those I love in my thoughts, hug the ones closest to me. I have respect for others and their viewpoints, and listen with an open heart and mind. I review my own belief system and find the peace therein. If I worry, I take physical action to dispel the anxiety. Doing something helps me feel better and less anxious, so that in turn, I can help others.

However you deal with omens at times like these, I hope you find something positive in them, whether it be an action you take, a realization that occurs, or even just telling the ones you love them that you do. Omens may be markers in our life, so it’s always a good thing to heed them. What are your omens? I’d really like to know.

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