Listen to: Unspoken "Call It Grace"
About 85 million people endured one of the worst snow storms in the Northeastern part of the United States last week end. As it winded its way from the Carolinas up the East Coast, Storm Jonas dumped two – three feet of snow all along its path. Tragically some people lost their lives; others were stranded while a significant number lost power. Most of us faced cancellations of activities and the strenuous job of shoveling out walkways and cars. We learned to step gingerly through mammoth slush puddles at curbs. We frantically seek almost non-existent parking or wait with resignation for delayed buses or trains.
Storm Jonas is a reminder not only of the power of nature but ultimately of the lack of ultimate control we have over our lives. We like to believe we are in control of everything we do and what happens to us. Control is quite an American virtue: having things “under control” and “being in control” are seen as positive attributes. Some people jokingly, but with a hint of pride, consider themselves “control freaks,” finessing every last detail of their day.
A storm like last week’s teaches us that control is an illusion; at its best limited in scope. What does Proverbs admonish us but “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” ( Proverbs 16:9). We planned for weeks for an event, but it had to be cancelled. At the same time thousands of flights were grounded and peoples’ plans dashed. The storm disrupted the predictable routines of life. Like with Super-Storm Sandy, unable to go about our separate ways, we actually found ourselves as a family gathered together spending some quality time. With worship services cancelled we found ourselves improvising at home. For all the infelicities and challenges the storm brought, there were also unexpected graces: Slowing the pace of life down. To let go of needing to be in charge. To go with the flow. To reconnect with loved ones, with nature and with God in new and renewed ways.
Although we had to postpone our celebration party, among other things, it was not the end of the world. I discovered it was an affirmation -- in a positive sense -- that I am not in charge or in control! Even as the snow levels rose I felt my heart thawing and a strange sense of freedom flood my being. It was good to let go and be at peace, even in the presence of a near blizzard.
The God of the heavens is in control of working through all things and in all things to bring forth the fruits of love and peace. Even in snow storms. Perhaps even in the storms that are raging in our hearts, in our bodies or minds? In all the blizzards of life, we can choose to be flexible, open to new opportunities to care and react in the world, and ultimately to discover the fonts of strength and grace within.
What blizzards are you facing? How are they changing or challenging your life? How do you want or do you see God present?
Prayer: God of Peace, be present to all who are facing the storms of nature and the internal storms of the human heart. May the deeds of loving kindness and mercy bloom in whatever conditions we face. Amen.