Tuesday, September 15, 2015

When We Face Stormy Weather

photo by Liam Kernel / flickr
"Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions, beneath our religion or lack of it, we are all vulnerable both to the storm without and to the storm within, and if ever we are to find true shelter, it is with the recognition of our tragic nakedness and need for true shelter that we have to start."
----Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Someone asked a woman on a ship if she liked storms at sea. She said, "No--I don't like storms at sea--but I do like having moved through storms at sea." From time to time most of us have to deal with stormy weather. Unless we love disruption--nobody likes troubled waters.

I'm not talking about the Weather Channel or the temperature--I'm talking about a subject far different. Right now I'm leading a Grief group of people who have lost wives, husbands,  parents and partners. They are in the middle of stormy weather. How they respond to this very hard time--will determine their futures really. Losing someone we love is one of the hardest things we have to go through. None of us are immune. We can also add old age, bad lab reports, broken relationships, failures, depression, fear and whole lot of other things. Stormy weather, indeed.

How do we move through our storms? Our culture teaches us to fix our problems and if we cannot fix our difficulties--at least we learn better techniques, use more advanced technology--control whatever we face.

Guess what? There are a great many things that we cannot control. Our culture has little to say about these storms. Look at the folk in California who have lost their houses in the fire that just happened. Hundreds of homes have burned to the ground. I read where a man in a neighboring town just shot a retired coach and one of his friends as they walked down the street. My good friend just learned that he has a disease that nobody seems to understand--not even the doctors--he is going through a frightening time. We are told that we can manage about everything. The old saying: "There's nothing that me and God together can't handle."

Tell that to the grievers, those who have lost houses or jobs or don't know what to do with the unending bills they cannot pay. Stormy weather. And the advice to: "walk through the storm with our head held high..." is just not enough to get us through all these things we cannot control.

The Apostle Paul, veteran of more storms that he could even remember said: "We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed..."If you read a little further he tells them what he has said over and over: "We do not lose heart." And then he gives the secret--but not a fix--"We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal."

We are not storm chasers they seem to me to be a little crazy. But the challenge is to be a storm facer. Not storm deniers. Barbara Brown Taylor says there are a whole lot of churches today whose message is: "full solar spirituality." They believe we can stay in the light of God around the clock. Taylor believes we can learn to walk in the dark.

That's why I sit in a circle week after week listening to the stories of people who have lost someone they love. This is why I believe, despite all the craziness we cannot control--maybe the old song is right after all: "We really do not walk alone."

--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com

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