A few weeks ago, we were hit by a snowstorm. A friend on Twitter mentioned how she loves the sun shining after a storm. I replied by saying, “It reminds me of an essay I wrote in High School, “The sun always shines after a storm.” I was 16. Sometimes I wonder how I would write it today.” She followed up with this: “Why not write an up-to-date version for who you are today?”
It was the mid-70s, and I was in High School. My favorite Greek Literature teacher had instructed us to approach the essay as a metaphor for life. After we handed in our papers, we had a lengthy discussion in class. I remember being disappointed with my paper. It was laden with cliches and lacked insight. Looking back, I can see that it wasn’t so much about my writing skills as it was about my lack of life experience. Although I had found myself amid stormy weather early on, I was just beginning to understand the impact these storms would have and how they would alter the course of my life.
I was too young to appreciate the nuances of storms.
Last week, I turned 63. I now know that the sun always shines after a storm although the ground it shines upon may be changed forever.
There are many types of storms. Some storms develop slowly and gain power as they go, and some storms come suddenly, hit hard, and pass quickly, leaving us scrambling to find our footing and catch our breath.
Some storms leave wreckage in their wake, and some don’t turn out as severe as expected. No matter how strong the storm is or how dark the sky gets, there comes a moment when it stops raining, and the wind quiets down. The dark clouds withdraw, and the sun bursts through, making everything visible. The colors seem more vivid and the air feels fresh.
With the sun lighting our way, we can finally go outside, look around, and survey the damage. Depending on what we see, we may feel relief or anguish.
There is something about the sun shining after a storm, that can give us hope if we let it.
Standing in the open space with the sun shining down on us, we exhale and begin to feel grateful. We survived the storm. As long as we stand, there is hope and possibilities.
Maybe it is in the kindling of hope that new beginnings begin to sprout. Under the light of hope, we become reenergized. Our resolve strengthens. We begin working on saving what needs saving, healing what we can, and letting go of the rest. It is a deeply personal process that takes time.
“The miracle is not to walk on water,
or in the air, or on burning charcoal.
The miracle is to walk on earth.
You breathe in, you become aware
of the fact that you are alive.
You are alive and you are walking on
this beautiful planet.
The greatest of all miracles is to be alive.”
– THICH NHAT HANH
Storms happen. How do we weather them?
The obvious answer, of course, is by preparing. Still, we are not always able to prepare for a storm. We are bound to be caught unawares at times. We get hurt, we face loss, we lose faith. While negotiating the aftermath of a storm and enduring, we grow more resilient and learn to get ahead of future storms.
Think back to the latest storm you weathered. How did you prepare?
You probably made sure you had safe shelter, food supplies, and ways to stay warm and dry. You filled your car with gas, making sure you had enough wood for the fireplace or woodstove, batteries for your flashlight, and charged your phone. You reached out to those you care about and those you know to be vulnerable to confirm they were safe and had everything they needed. Your loved ones reached out to check in on you.
Life lessons we learn as we navigate storms.
Strong storms leave an imprint. They impact our lives, become strong memories, and teach us valuable lessons. They move through and over us, and we have to deal with their aftermath, but eventually, we can look back and see that something good may have come out of the storm too.
We learn to be proactive, provide for ourselves, and grow strong and resilient. We also learn to accept our own vulnerability and reach out for support, when we have to. We develop deep friendships. We become softer and more compassionate.
Think back to the storms you have weathered. Who was your safe shelter? What kept you safe? What nourished you? What are you grateful for?
“Hold my hand. I need you for courage. We become who we are together, each needing the other. Alone is a myth.”Gunilla Norris from Becoming Bread
Reading these words by Gunilla Norris makes me wonder how many myths about life and being human become dispelled in the storms that so often shake our reality. Maybe that’s a good thing.