They say a big storm is coming.
For days they’ve been telling us that we should expect heavy rain, wild winds and snow in the mountains. They say it will be the biggest storm this winter and there may be damage done.
So far it has not appeared but as I write these words, I see the trees moving in the wind and the sky is dull.
Often the anticipation of an event is so much more stressful than the event itself.
It was August 1992, I was working on cruise ships in the Caribbean and my contract was just finishing. As we were sailing back towards Miami and I was due to disembark for the very last time, we starting hearing the news flashes about the hurricane.
At first I was delighted! A hurricane, what fun! I could take great pictures and what great stories I could tell. And then I began to listen more closely.
The first thing I realized was that there was no escaping. The airports were sending out their last flights, the roads were completely blocked by people fleeing the storm and anyway I didn’t have anywhere to go.
A friend offered that the few of us from the crew due to fly home that day would hang out at his house. We began the preparations.
We boarded up the ground floor windows and put away anything that was outside in the garden. We filled the bath with water and any other large containers that we could find.
We were all very cheerful, it was a great adventure, but I remember the news broadcaster’s voices becoming more and more stressed as the storm came closer. There were projections and assumptions, there were estimates and forecasts. And then there was just plain old panic.
It got late, we decided to grab some sleep while we could. We were sleeping on mattresses on the floor in an upstairs bedroom.
I awoke to the sound of the screaming wind and thudding against the side of the house, Hurricane Andrew had arrived (pictured above!).
Rain water was pouring through the closed windows, the trees were bent in half and then there was a huge crash as a ceiling fan smashed to the floor.
We ran downstairs to the tiny space at the bottom and surrounded ourselves with mattresses. The walls were shaking, the dog howling and we were sure the house was about to collapse. There was nothing to do but to wait, listen to the crackling radio signal that came and went, and pray.
We were very lucky. It was a devastating storm, the statistics of which have become legend. When it was finally over, the electricity was out, water cut off and there were no phone lines. The best thing about that was that we didn’t have to hear the news anymore!
It was an amazing experience. And I realized that the build-up was so much more frightening that the event itself.
Being in a hurricane is truly awesome. You understand instantaneously that you can do nothing other than submit to the powers of nature. You have no defense and this is a wonderful reality that allows you simply embrace what is.
Last week I was delighted and relieved to receive an email from my friend Fiona, in Christchurch New Zealand. She wrote ‘ such a turbulent time we live in…the Earth is surely giving us an impactful message…so much energy needs to be released. Love is being shown by everyone…so uplifting’.
It seems to me that we stand naked and alone in the face of a storm. But still we have the choice to trust in the inherent goodness of reality and have faith that all outcomes are what they should be. Our experience, beliefs and presence clothe and nurture us throughout the storm.
Once again, reality proves itself to be so much more beautiful that our thoughts and fears about it.
Once again, I realize that in the face of the storm which is always imminent, especially in these changing times, we are more than ready, we are more than able to survive.