Hurricanes and Hope

As I write, Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the East Coast of the US, and is expected to make landfall plus or minus 50 miles from our home. We have spent most of the day in preparation for punishing winds, torrential rain, and possible flooding. The storm is approximately 900 miles wide and will affect everyone from Virginia to Massachusetts according to the latest reports. My workplace called to say that we will be shutting down our facility tonight and not to report until we get clearance from local authorities. We are told to expect to lose our electric power as the storm hits sometime in the morning, so I thought I would try to post something while the internet is still available.

The image above is a satellite image of the storm from space, and it shows that this storm clearly is enormous. We have our battery-powered lanterns ready, plus two that are recharging from the camping supplies. We stocked up on some additional bags of ice and have followed all the suggestions for securing all loose items outside and put everything up higher that might otherwise get wet if there is flooding. While all of these considerations are important and have occupied my time for most of the day, all along the way, and certainly now as we can only sit and wait, my thoughts have turned once again to recovery and hope.

Jean Le Capelain (St. Helier 1812-1848)
Fishing boats at anchor and weathering the storm

With the impending storm outside approaching as I write, I couldn’t help but think of how the past few weeks seemed very much like weathering a storm of a different sort. The emotional and spiritual upheaval of the past few weeks as I tended to my brother’s care, knowing full well that the height of that storm was very near, now gives me a sense of calm, even in the face of a serious “superstorm” on the way. By morning, the winds are expected to reach sustained speeds of 50 mph, with gusts as much as 70 mph. The eye of the hurricane, if it continues to follow the predicted path, will pass very nearly directly over us, with a plus or minus 50 mile leeway. Torrential rains, flooding, and widespread power outages will combine to make “weathering the storm,” more than just a catch phrase.

As is my habit, during times when the situation gets stormy, I generally turn to reading when the power goes out. I’ve been considering what I might read and was delighted to come across a passage from Emerson that seemed to fit the circumstances:

“The wise man in a storm prays God not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.”

By comparison, even this “superstorm” that approaches as I type at my desk feels less daunting than the storm within me, as I contemplate the loss of my dear brother. With all the advantages of being close over the years, and right up to his last days, the implications of the storm within confirm Emerson’s insight.

As I consider what has been lost, even the trials of a hurricane seem far less urgent than the stirrings within me. The resolution lies somewhere in the maelstrom of consciousness, and shines through the darkness occasionally. It flashes before me in brief and startling snippets, as well as in more subtle moments which are no easier to comprehend. Out of nowhere, I am alerted to the possibility that the answer might be in my grasp. In those moments….hope lives on.

…..more to come…..

4 thoughts on “Hurricanes and Hope

    1. Scott,

      Thanks for your message and I posted the first report a few minutes ago. I’m not sure just how long I will be able to post, but I will report as I am able.

      Hoping is all we can do now…..John H.

  1. John,

    If I was caught in a storm, lost at sea, I would be confident if you were my captain. Your family is lucky to have such a smart and compassionate man, a true navigator.

    Be well,

    1. Patrice,

      Navigating recently has been a bit problematical for me, but your thoughtful response gives me good cause to believe that if I WERE your captain, lost or not, I would find a way to bring you to safe harbor. Your generous comments reminded me of a quote from a book I read years ago, and I actually managed to find it, since I had little else to do as the hurricane passed over us. The book is called, “The Silk Road,” by Jan Myrdal and it contains this lovely and appropriate quote:

      “Traveling is not just seeing the new; it is also leaving behind. Not just opening doors; also closing them behind you, never to return. But the place you have left forever is always there for you whenever you shut your eyes.”

      When I shut my eyes, I can see you smiling when you are joyful, and have occasionally sensed that you were weeping, when you were moved to do so. Your gift to us is your willingness to share, and our gift to you is the unconditional acceptance of whatever it is you share.

      May you also be well……John H.

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