Our neighborhood used to be a thick pine grove before being developed in 1999. Some of the remaining pine trees border the back yards at the end of our court. As I watch the tall trees on the hill in our backyard garden dance and sway with the winds of Hurricane Sandy, I am most conscious that if one of them falls it could go right through the roof of our house. That actually happened to our next door neighbor in a bad storm twelve years ago before I had even met George. That tree crashed through their roof into their bedroom. Thanks be to God, no one was injured. Can you even imagine?
The garden view from our patio doors shows about 30 percent of the height of the pine and maple trees. They tower over the dogwoods and plum trees at the top of the garden hill.
Hurricane updates come to my phone almost year-round. We pay particular attention to the storms affecting the Caribbean since we have a home in South Florida. I have had alerts and updates about Sandy since she started forming out at sea. She was a hurricane when she hit Florida last Thursday and Friday. Local schools in a number of counties were closed both days. Fortunately, the damage in the area was minimal, along the usual flooding. The locals are used to tropical storms and hurricanes. We all have hurricane windows and storm shutters. The Weather Channel broadcasted from the beach last week near our neighborhood on Singer Island. It only served as a minor coming attraction to what would be in store for us this week.
I have never seen the proactive level of preparedness in my lifetime as for Hurricane Sandy. Since most of us are super-connected via Facebook and Twitter, the Internet and email, we have been inundated with highly important information about what we need and how to survive almost any possible outcome.
As the rain started pounding our roof here in Bel Air last night, the around-the-clock coverage has kept us more updated than was ever imaginable. The photographs and videos that are being shared on social media have given us the opportunity to see and feel what is happening in many cities and understand what their residents are undergoing. Governmental officials and emergency management personnel are reinforcing the severity of this storm’s possible outcomes and urging all of us to use our very best common sense to keep our families safe and allow the first-responders to do their job.
I have heard many people speak of anxiety and fear. We have no looking glass in which to see what our homes and neighborhoods and favorite beach towns will look like in three days. What we do have though is the assurance of our faith that we are not alone in this storm and in all the storms which we face in our lives.
“Be not afraid” became the unofficial motto and legacy for the papacy of Pope John Paul II. Before that time, the beautiful St. Louis Jesuits’ hymn of the same name, written by Bob Dufford, SJ in 1975, was one of my favorites in college and has long brought comfort to many of us.
The words of the refrain immediately come to mind:
“Be not afraid,
I go before you always;
Come follow Me,
And I shall give you rest.”
Jesuit Father Jim Martin, contributing editor at America Magazine, posted a wonderful prayer of hope and comfort yesterday, as well as an equally comforting reflection online today for The Huffington Post.
I encourage you to read his article “Hope in the Midst of Storms.”
Therein, Father Martin encourages us: “In times of fear, look backwards. Look where God has been with you in the past, and remember that God will continue to be. Trust that the God who has been with you in the past will not abandon you, either in the present or in the future.”
Here below is the prayer written by Father Martin which I also mentioned above:
“A Prayer in the Storm”
God of the Universe, at the dawn of creation, your Spirit breathed on the waters, making them the wellspring of all holiness. You created the oceans and rivers, and all that dwell within them, and at your word the wind and the waves were born. The seasons follow your plan, and the tides rise and fall on your command. In both calm and storm, you are with us. On the Sea of Galilee, even when the disciples began to fear, Jesus showed that he was Lord over the waters by rebuking the storms, so that all would know that even the wind and the waves obey him. Creator God, we ask you to calm the wind and the waves of the approaching hurricane, and spare those in its path from harm. Help those who are in its way to reach safety. Open our hearts in generosity to all who need help in the coming days. In all things and in all times, help us to remember that even when life seems dark and stormy, you are in the boat with us, guiding us to safety. Amen.
In conclusion, let’s join together in sending up many prayers for the safety and well-being of all of us in the path of Hurricane Sandy: May we be spared the worst scenarios.
This garden view from the patio doors shows about 60 percent of the height of the nearest pine tree.