Living in New Orleans as I do, hurricane season is never far from my mind. I feel as if I am either preparing to start the six-month-long season or enduring it. The season begins in June and ends in November. For me, Thanksgiving has an added dimension of thankfulness when we make it through a storm season with no big hurricane.
My Mother and I – along with Chloe' – leave town when the big ones come around. We stay at home if the hurricane is only a class 1 storm. I have been through several hurricanes in my life and I want to attempt to describe it for you.
Preparation and prayer are the keys to safely surviving a hurricane. Adrenaline keeps my mind working at top speed: I make a list for all the outside chores and another one for inside work. We move all the potted plants indoors. The furniture on the veranda is moved inside or is turned to face the wind. Our neighbors board up our windows. Everything that is loose is put away so that it does not become a guided missile. Inside, we fill the bathtub with water; we collect bottled drinking water, canned prepared food, medicines, flashlights, and a hand-cranked radio.
We watch the weather channel on TV as long as we can get a signal. The storm seems to creep up the Gulf of Mexico, but one look outside shows us low clouds flying by at a tremendous speed. At ground level, we feel only a light breeze, but where the clouds are, a fierce wind blows. The sky darkens and the first drops of rain touch earth. Coming from the southeast, we see a curtain of rain so dense that we cannot see the house beyond it. The streetlights come on in front of the rain. The sky is very dark and threatening.
Soon, the rainsquall is gone. The sky is a lighter gray; the streetlights go off. This pattern repeats itself several times, each squall lasting longer, with higher winds and darker skies until the streetlights never turn off. The tension increases inside the house, too: the sound of the high winds and the rain pounding down, the sight of the tree limbs breaking off the trees and whipping through the air; water flooding the street, lights flickering off and then on again – or going off completely - ratchet up the stress level.
Suddenly, everything is quiet. The wind stops blowing. Instead of sheets of rain, single drops of water drip from the eaves of the house. A few rays of sunlight peek through a light film of high clouds. A bird or two flutters out of their hiding place. A weight feels as if it has lifted from my chest. My battered nervous system relaxes as we step out on the veranda to see if our neighbors have any damage.
This is the eye of the storm. Every hurricane has one. While violent weather is going on all around it in every direction, the eye is a place of peace and tranquility. The fiercer the storm, the smaller the eye, but the eye lasts as long as the power of the winds. If you were able to travel in the eye of the storm, keeping pace with the storm as it moves, you would never experience the harsh conditions that surround the eye.
I see a wonderful analogy in this. We are in a time of extreme storms in our nation, our culture, our world. Everywhere we turn, we see violence – physical, mental and spiritual. Unlike my experience with hurricanes, we can choose to live either in the fierce winds or in the calm of the storm's eye. In Isaiah 26:3 we read, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." In John 14:1 Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." (NIV) Living those Words, taking them into our hearts and our experience, will keep us in that place of calm and quiet even in the harshest storm.
So many times, the way to find peace is to press into the center of the trial instead of running away. When God covers us with his feathers and we find refuge under His wings, the winds and waves cannot reach us no matter how hard they try. The internal peace and stability we achieve in that place allows us to see the reality of the problems that face us while it gives us the courage to trust God and to fight to stay as close to Him as possible.
The next time a storm comes your way. Be prepared by praying and spending time studying the Bible when no storm is on the horizon. Run to God at the first sign of a small cloud on the horizon; then stay there. From that position, you will be able to stand against your enemies, keeping your peace and sense of well-being, no matter what class hurricane comes your way.