Calming the storm

Have you noticed that ever since weather stations all around the world started to name storms, we are getting more of them? I think that by bestowing a name and a personality we may well be encouraging them. But there’s also the effect of 24 hour rolling news broadcasts, which have to be filled after all, and so we hear so much about these historically seasonal storms (days in advance) that we see each one as a freakily dangerous psychopath. It’s wind and rain, folks. It’s winter. Get a grip.

And anyway, maybe we’re not getting more of them. Maybe it just seems that way. As I write this trains have been cancelled, schools have been shut, high sided lorries have been grounded, and we are warned to stay indoors – Storm Eunice is coming! Listen, listen, I’m 73, I’ve been shipwrecked (well, nearly) and I’ve crash-landed in a plane and I’ve come off a motorbike at 40mph, and I’ve been stoned by Catholics and pelted by Protties, and knocked down a winding staircase and dropped from an apple tree (can’t remember it – I was a week old) so how afraid of Eunice am I? Not one bit. Cautious, yes. Afraid? No.

It’s good to respect the wind and snow and rain, of course it is. We can no more control them than we can cancel out gravity, so just as we don’t step off a cliff expecting to float, so we don’t shelter under a tree in a storm. And storms are dangerous, for sure. But fear doesn’t help and panic just makes things worse – today I’ve met two elderly people who have been made miserable and cowed by the constant warnings of stormy weather. After two years of Covid restrictions and isolation (they’re single) this is something they don’t need. They’re both already suffering from an advanced case of cabin fever. There is a fine line between a warning and a threat, and I think sometimes we get it wrong.

I read an article written by someone who has kept a weather diary for 40 years, and looking back over those years he has found the same sort of patterns occurring year on year. Sometimes there’s several years of mild weather, but then along comes a decade of steadily worsening weather. Sometimes floods come in January, sometimes in March. His diary has given him a perspective that many of us don’t have , and while he takes Global Warming seriously, he sees an underlying stability and hopefulness, as he flicks back to days just like this, to winds worse than this. And it reminds me that in the Middle Ages the River Thames would freeze over so completely that markets were held on the ice, and it reminds me that in 1976 in Derby it was the hottest Summer for 350 years (and that record stands) while 1995 was the driest on record. It reminds me that I was standing in the sea in Cornwall in the first week of August 1969 and, as the sun shone down on us, there was a small strange eddy of sleety snow. It lasted about two minutes as we all looked up at the cloudless sky, wondering who was playing a trick on us. See? Weather is complicated, changing, cyclical, capricious, beyond the ken of man.

Enjoy every day, the dawns and the sunsets, when it’s fine soak up the sun, when it’s stormy lean into the wind, and feel the fresh rain on your skin…. or shut the door, wear another jumper, wait for it to pass. Whatever the day, the world is a wonderful place, and we’ve made it thus far.

A view of the village, last night.

They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” Luke 8:24-25

But those two I met today, who were so fearful of the storm, weren’t aware that Jesus can calm the storm. He can calm the storm in their hearts, just as he calmed the waves in Galilee. In him, it says somewhere, ‘all things hold together.’

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

Along with the Joy of Jesus comes Peace. Knowing Jesus, knowing who has mastery of the storm, brings peace. The one who commands the winds and the waves and who loved us and died for us, is the Lord of every storm, whether that storm is out there in the cold, or deep in our hearts, or in our confusion, or in our sadness.

You know that valley of the shadow of death? We can walk through it, and fear absolutely nothing.

Post script: I called in on the two worriers on the way back from a stormy walk. They’re both fine. Snug and warm.

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