The Eye of the Storm
August 29, 2011"When the storms of life are raging, stand by me....." As we sat in the living room the reporters on The Weather Channel were predicting the path of Hurricane Irene. We were in the living room of our river house rapt with attention with Irene who swirled on our doorstep. Random thoughts shot through my mind. "She is days away from us..... could change direction at any time. Odds are she will.... I have known some really wonderful 'Irenes." How bad could this one be? And on and on I self-comforted in statistics, history, memory, and prayer. The closer this magnificent storm came to the North Carolina coast, the more philosophical I became. Friday afternoon, after the philosophy dissolved, after Tom and I had "secured" all we could, after we had laughed about the naming of a South Carolina beach named "Folly," and reflected on Jesus' words about building house on the sand, I walked out onto the deck by myself. I stood beside the railing and thanked River Neuse for all the ways she had blessed us through the years. Dear River, we have played in your waves and floated in your surf. We have eaten the bounty of your offering of Blue Fish and Flounder and Blue Crabs. We have sailed and motored up and down and all across.( I was not sure I had ever thanked the river before.) Then I thanked the sand. Dear Sand, if you disappear after this hurricane, I will not spite you. I have played bocce and softball and swept you from my bare feet. I have seen my babies and my grand babies play in you and dig holes and build fire pits and cook s'mores. You have given me much more than I have ever given you. Thank you, Dear Sand. Tom and I built a home on the Neuse 42 years ago, when our Lisa was six months old. We paid $500 for the lot and another $500 for the house which took about 35 years to finish. This has been the most permanent home we have had, save our home in the Lord. Tom's ancestors had settled the land in the 1700s, so the affinity with the soil has been a powerful draw for us. The precedent for this connection with land I suppose comes from the God who names Jacob "Israel" and the covenant was made with people and place together. When a powerful storm threatens home, it is easy to forget that we are called to be people unattached to things of earth. The saints give witness to such detachment. On a good day, I can do this. When Hurricane Irene beckons and I see this place I love in the path of the storm, detachment becomes more problematic, when I am honest. So what do I gather up and "save." Snapshots of the children and family. Original art..... Lisa's paintings, Francis Layfield's, and mine. Tom's good smelling aftershave. Funny what I thought was important. Irene said goodnight late last evening and swept up to New York for the rest of her visit. Our brave neighbors, Jim and Paul, have sent pictures of Cambelot (our house for happy ever-aftering), and other houses along our river. Ours is standing; others are gone. We will go down in the morning to assess damage and make repairs. We plan to do the cooking for the neighbors tomorrow night, as their pork and beans must be tiresome to them now. While we wait for electricity to return, we will enjoy the sunrise and the sunset that have not changed because of the storm. They will remind me of God's abiding presence in the world, and the shelter of God's wing that has kept our joy in tack. Life is indeed temporal and fleeting. Just own property on the North Carolina Coast to realize that truth. And the power of creation is now and always dynamic, inviting me to wake up and notice what is around me now. Thank you, God, for truth revealed and for peace that this night indeed passes all understanding. Be with all who are in the eye of the storm, and keep us as the apple of your eye. Amen.