Like some of you I’m sure, I have found myself unable to look too far away from news reports of Hurricane Dorian’s landfall. I write today from my back porch, where every gust that rustles the trees, every siren that screams in the distance, every sound and rumble and movement of creation arouses fear and worry and raw sadness, sometimes preemptive, for those in the storm’s path.
And yet, in an equally-familiar lilt come waves of refuge. For when sorrows like sea billows roll, so too do God’s promises of abiding, unyielding presence throughout all the changing seasons of life. Like tides that come in and out, in and out, I find myself in a similar rhythm. First the exhale — grief and uncertainty, faces and places caught in my fear, stories and images of haunting destruction. Then the inhale — Creator who calls us by name, Redeemer who so loves the world, Spirit who holds all the mighty rushing winds.
Families separated by the harrowing blast. Homes and safe harbors reduced to a splintering shadow of what once stood. Retraumatized survivors whose emotional wounds from Katrina, Matthew, Florence, Harvey split open each time a new storm swirls in the sea. Exhale.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” (Isaiah 43) Inhale.
My aunt and uncle who live in downtown Charleston. The waterfront bench where Josh dropped to one knee and asked me to be his wife. Our family’s decades-long summer escape for rest, renewal, and play in Garden City. Friends whose homes and lives dot the coast from Savannah to Mt. Pleasant, Wilmington to the Outer Banks. Exhale.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though its mountains tremble with tumult.” (Psalm 46) Inhale.
Storms in marriages and minds, among siblings and friends. Floods of anxiety and dread, hatred and indifference. Winds of disconnection and isolation, despair and sorrow. O hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea! Exhale.
“Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4) Inhale.
Tide in. Tide out. Exhale. Inhale. A rhythm that no matter the storm we face, grounds us in the unyielding shelter of God that never, ever fails.
Together in the work of Love,
Image: “Jesus Calms the Storm” by Laura James