Friday, January 5, 2018

Till the Storm Passes Over

It doesn’t seem too many years ago that storms appeared an accepted part of our lives. Perhaps it may just have been my youth that made it just another exciting part of our yearly events. Every winter I reminisce about how deep the snow used to be in my childhood, how long driveways were hand shovelled, and even before my time roads, had to be kept open by community members who took their turn at clearing up the snow on roadways in front of their homes. Do we have storms like we did 50-60 years ago? For those of us in Eastern Canada, our recollections don’t need to go back to far, to be aware of the famous Groundhog Day storm of “1976”. Oh my, the upheaval caused by that tempest.

I remember watching the news as stories of damage hit the headlines on our television and radio stations. The damages ran into the millions of dollars along the Eastern seaboard of both Canada and the United States, without one life being lost. We often just shrug our shoulders and get on with life, because we consider the blessing of not too many lives either lost or interrupted by these storms… but is that really a correct assumption? It is difficult to look into the private lives of the many whose welfare and livelihood changed drastically due to that particular storm, and this was just one of many types of storms in life.

Back in 2002 a rogue wind tore through Southern Nova Scotia and caused much damage to woodlands and shoreline. People wondered where the storm came from, but it was a series of different airflows that united and suddenly turned to hurricane force winds. In late 2017, and on into the starting days of 2018, we have had a few bad storm days. With high winds and odd weather patterns throughout eastern Canada, people in many areas have had to be without power and telephone communication (landlines) for 2-3 weeks. In these days of reduced maintenance crews due to cutbacks, private contractors have to be brought in to fill the gaps and progress has been slow. People who have to rely on electricity for heat, and especially those who, due to our ageing population, are hooked up to lifelines which need landlines to operate, are at a loss.

We get used to having our creature comforts, but when that changes, our lives take a dive into apprehension and sometimes despair. This past evening my wife and I took a drive along our waterfront which is but a few houses down from where we live. With high winds and unusually high tides, we were expecting storm surges, and so it sparked an interest for us to go out to have a look. Only a few minutes later the police closed Dock Street to traffic and onlookers began their quest to record the event with amazing videos and pictures of the rising tides, winds and the wave action it was causing. The whole waterfront along Dock Street was flooded and in some cases, people were evacuated. Damages caused will have to be evaluated, and time lost while repairs are made or equipment replaced, may only be the tip of the iceberg, as the exact damage is surveyed. The fortunate will give thanks, but those who sustained damages will need time to recoup losses and recover from the storm.

Life does not always glow with the joy of sunshine and warm breezes.  When twists in the road suddenly bring disruption and disaster, it takes a strong sense of self-reliance and more importantly a deep faith that we are not alone in all that unfolds, to get us through. A dear cousin of mine reminded his followers (on social media) that we have a higher power on which to rely. While this generic term gives a sense of someone out there, my thought gives light to a God of mercy and courage, as we stand in the shelter of His hand upon our lives. I have often been asked why God allows tragedy, upheaval and yes, bad things to happen if He loves us so. There is no easy answer to that question, as it requires an understanding that we know so little of this God we love and serve, as His people. Just like our parents sometimes allowed us to make mistakes, go through trials and temptations, but more importantly were hopefully there to hold us through the pain of sickness and hurt, so God allows things to happen, not to test us necessarily, but to remind us that even through the worst of times, He is with us. The Psalmist David stated that even though he had to walk in horrible places, he was not alone; he had no need to fear even death.

Today in this short reflection on the storms of life, I am reminded that storms come and they go. How I approach their presence, their destruction, along with any fear I may feel, it is simply a superficial part of living that comes and goes. Anything I have is merely a garnish upon the act of living. Do I long to keep what I have?… absolutely!… it is part of my human desire for comfort. But, in the end, we could lose all and still be blessed. That is the difficult part! Letting go of “stuff” and losing everything is never easy. I have stood alongside those who have lost it all, as their homes burned, along with all of their treasures and keepsakes. While all I could do was hold their hand for a moment, God was already working to renew their losses, as His people dove in to relieve their pain with community generosity and love.

Today is the day after this, particularly powerful storm. Above is a 2013 pic of what Dock Street would have looked like, but last night it was pounded by heavy waves. The historic Barrel Factory surrounded by water took quite a beating.  I was able to go to bed with a simple reliance upon God’s protection for our community and His help when and if there were damages to be repaired and property to be replaced. Till the storm passes by, many the heart will tremble, many are the fears that arise, but storms do pass by and the darkness of the night is followed by the light of day, and renewed hope. Why not put your faith in trusting God. Sure, things will go awry, they always do, but how we face those moments, days and sometimes even weeks or months, will reflect our trust in that higher power; God who is our guide, help and hope.

Last night we looked over the edge and it was rough out there. Living near the edge has its benefits, but it also carries with it those moments of great storms as well. Keeping safe takes two things in my estimation; the wisdom to not be reckless with our attempts to find stability in comfort and patience to ride out the storm where necessary. For most seasonal storms we are given advanced notice, so be prepared when you can, and give your fear to God; He is watching over you. Standing at the edge of the storm is scary, but put into perspective, so are many other things in life. Be safe until the storm passes by!

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