The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
– Leo Tolstoy
Time…we all know what it is; how we spend it, what it means to us, and how we judge ourselves and others for the ways we measure it.
A few days ago, it became clear to me that the area I live in was going to see a storm of some kind. Early indications were that it would likely turn north…”but we never turn our backs on a storm,” they said.
I started checking the 11:00 am and pm and 5:00 am and pm updates posted by the National Hurricane Center. What started as preparation for a windy rain storm (Category 2) turned into a plan to evacuate. That necessary shift became apparent within about 24 hours. Then the planned date of departure for evacuation was moved up one more day from what had been planned. The time seemed to be getting “shorter”.
As I had begun the process of pulling things together, I started to consider the reality that all of what is familiar may be significantly damaged or wiped away. So, in addition to the logistical challenge which was in front of me, I faced those emotions about home…what it means to have it, to not have it, to choose to leave it, and now the possibility that there may be no choice about it. It was as if the eviction notice was being served.
And…I realized what a gift I had in the midst of all of this. While preparing to leave. I wondered how people who have moments to escape a tornado, wildfire, or flood do so facing the immediacy of a life threatening situation. They have no time to do anything more than escape with their lives. They lose all of their material possessions. They have their lives, and an opportunity to begin again.
Yes, this is not easy. Yes, I was and still am in a safe place where I watched from afar as the latest storm took aim at the community I have lived in for the last two years. The furry companions are disoriented and adjusting to a new place that itself is temporary. It is clear that the damage is significant, getting back there may take a while. I know that I am also not the only one who has had or will have to face a situation like this in their lifetime. Many have faced it multiple times.
With the relative luxury of time to make choices – even quickly – one has a moment to look forward and determine what possibilities to consider in order to move on. Recognizing that many do not, did not or may not, I am grateful for even the smallest moments in which to make a choice. Living by default or stepping in? It’s always our choice to make.
So, I find that I am in that cradle – of space and time – where nothing is certain and deadlines loom and choices await.
While I wait for water to recede, roads to be re-opened, I am heartened by the acts of kindness that I hear about or receive directly, even from afar. When we remember our humanity and can offer the best of who we are to anyone at any time and in any situation, we have reconnected to our essence.
The journey of these last two weeks isn’t over and in some ways is only beginning. I am grateful for the memories which have been triggered through this process, for they have reminded me of some very important learnings and lessons and unfolded and made clearer what I have yet to do.
When we find ourselves in the midst of the storms of life – we have choices. We work through what is being presented to us; we face the memories, the terrors, the gifts and the challenges with a loving heart and grace facilitates our movement forward. Is this easy? No.
Even with what I thought I knew, about what I had healed within me, I found myself standing face to face with some of my past experiences. How do I know? The feelings…they were the same. The good news is that seeing these again, I was able to greet them, offer my gratitude for their return and let them go. Perhaps I bid them farewell for good. Only time will tell.
The times, the experiences, all are metaphors…for what? The answers lie in our discernment of the events unfolding, what we can see in them for ourselves and how we apply those, often multi-layered lessons moving forward. It is in the choices we make and in the patience with which we allow ourselves to experience the reflections of the past, that make the difference in the steps we take into the next moment.
I am reminded of a quote that I heard not too long ago that I offer here to all who have weathered the recent storm as well as any of the other storms of life, and who have much to do to heal, to clean or to rebuild.
“Fair winds and following seas.“