The Benefits of a Hurricane

“It is the spirit that gives life” – John 6:63

By the time it reached New England Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm, but it did more damage to houses, trees, and power lines than any hurricane I have experienced before in these parts.  We were without electricity for two days but many in Attleboro were without for four to seven days.  Clearly hurricanes are very damaging and these aspects are highlighted in the news broadcasts, but it occurred to me that storms may have spiritual benefits as well.

The Holy Spirit is like electricity in some respects: they both are invisible until a connection is made; they both provide energy and fire; they both provide light and communication.  Increasingly in this technological world electricity is essential to all the devices used in businesses, schools and homes.  Similarly, the Holy Spirit is the energy who connects individuals and communities in the network of love.  But one big difference is that the Holy Spirit is never shut off during any natural disaster.  We tend to lean more on the Spirit during those times because we are not distracted by so many other things.

So it was that Jean and I sat by window light and did some reading during the day and sat by candlelight during the evening and listened to a Dickens book on cassette tape – praise God for “D” batteries!  The quiet of the house and street was a delight.  We could even see the stars at night, something usually impossible in our light polluted region.   During the day we went for our usual 2 mile circular walk and spoke to as many people in one walk as we usually would have in a month of walks.  People were outside clearing away brush and making repairs and very ready to chat.  Divisions along political, racial, and religious lines did not seem to matter. As we walked through Capron Park and saw so many trees down I paused in a moment of awe before the power of nature and the inability of humankind to manage it.  People in our immediate neighborhood were helpful to one another.  I cooked a couple of meals on our gas grill for an elderly neighbor.  A friend called to offer us a shower and a meal when their electricity was restored.  Cell phones were busy keeping in touch.  It is good to know that in times of crisis the bonds of community are awakened.

I was excited when the electricity was restored but did have moments of regret for the passing of the quiet that had prevailed for two days.  But at least one benefit persisted for several days: physical exercise from raking the debris from lawn and garden!

About John Fisk

I am a retired pastor, who served churches in New England for 33 years. I emigrated to the USA from England in 1974 and completed two graduate degrees in theology and pastoral practice at Andover-NewtonTheological School. In retirement I am focused on the teaching of Christian meditation, providing spiritual guidance, leading retreats and occasional preaching. I am particularly interested in contemplation, the mystical path and social justice.
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