Monday, November 12, 2012
After the Storm
I had a strange reaction to the storm: Rage. I thought perhaps it was just a black day in the midst of my very long treatment? I was angry about having yet another challenge to deal with and I was exhausted. Truly prepping for what I felt like was “The-Second-Coming-Storm” was emotionally draining, but instead of feeling relief about it not hitting us, I felt angry.
I was angry and frustrated having to direct my limited energies to put everything in order and prepare for a possible disaster instead of sewing. Was I was feeling sorry for myself? Initially so, but my perspective quickly changed as I watched TV reports of the communities that were devastated by the storm. Clearly my own lost energy was nothing next to others grieving losses of homes or worse yet, loved ones and their inability to continue living as they remain without proper shelter, heat and electricity.
Hearing about people in NYC and NJ rummaging through trash in search of food and without potable drinking water, living in apartments and having to take many flights of stairs in the dark or worse yet trapped, as the disabled are unable to take the flights of stairs, no matter how dark. The lack of necessities for survival or spending hours at a time waiting to buy a few gallons of gas for back- up generators if they were lucky enough to still have shelter, made me feel a new frustration!! I wanted to bring them my bottled water and take them my food!! I would gladly share my provisions, and the heat of my home and how petty and spoiled of me to be mad about the inconveniences that this storm caused me!
I was horrified that those that had relatives or friends to stay with were choosing, instead, to stay behind and camp out in their damaged homes, afraid to leave; looters threatening to take all if their homes were left alone. How low can people get to steal, much less steal from those already in crisis, with little left but a few treasured items of their former lives!!
I also heard about the two small boys that were washed away and drown, as someone would not open their door. The home owner apparently thought they were stupid to be out in the storm and perhaps felt too fearful and desperate regarding his carefully planned survival tactics, to be human enough to let them come in. This was like one of those existential questions lived out in real life. Would “you” save another or not and potentially risk your own means of survival. How desperate do you have to get before you become so small to think only of saving your self?
What would I have done? I am truly a control freak and in the midst of terror, would I have been different? I can only hope so, but just being shut up with my adult alien children for a day and having them undo what I had just put in order, made me wonder. I am sometimes not patient or tolerant, or the person that I would like to be. I do seem to be a work in progress, but sometimes circumstances seem to push the “regress button" instead of the "maturity button" that is most needed at the time!
I am glad that with a new day, also comes new strength. I have greater appreciation for how lucky we are and yet with it comes the understanding, that to those that much is given, much is expected. I truly am past my prime and cannot be on the front line of this battle, but I can respond with a willing and generous heart and lifted prayers for those that are in true need right now. And if each of us does what we can, perhaps we can lift those that are in despair for truly "there but for the grace of God, go I" and perhaps you. All of my planning and control could not have saved me from such devastation had the water hit my home instead of theirs!
We will all find our own ways to relate to this crisis as there are lessons for each of us. We all perhaps need to be reminded to be bigger, not smaller in facing the fears and needs that we all share.
I am reminded of the story told about Mother Teresa and her sisters passing out rice provisions for the poor. There was apparently always a woman who came for her provision, though mother’s sisters had heard that on her way home, she would stop and split her lot with another person who was unable to go and get for her self. Mother’s helpers asked if they shouldn’t give her a double portion, and Mother in her wisdom answered, that her sharing was a bigger gift to her friend than if she was given an extra portion, as sharing from her own was a gift of her heart. The portion size was not as critical as the sharing of herself, for her gift was a gift of love and would nourish the spirit as well as the body.
However we respond to this crisis or reach out to help those around us in need, I think it is important to know that generosity is a gift of the the heart. This storm has washed away some of my veneer that covers my own vulnerability, and makes me realize that value comes from being connected to others and giving and sharing is what is most critical and this storm has not only brought much need but also much opportunity to give of ourselves in whatever way we feel best suited.