Musings on Birthdays and Hurricanes
(Was going to mail webs yesterday but might have lost power so waited and wrote it day after storm and getting it out there.)
I've written about this before but am revisiting the subject.
My birthday is around this time and its always been a heavy time of year. School used to begin on the same day so right away there were mixed messages. Around this time things get serious, summer is over, nights get shorter, and the grind begins. Truthfully, it feels like the beginning of the year. Recently, 9/11 occurred during this month and, oh, its also peak hurricane season.
Today is the first day after Dorian, a hurricane that delivered 185 mph winds 100 miles from where I live. It was catch your breath the whole way. One minute it would head up north, the next it might hit us directly. I prepared for two days and was late to the game because I thought it wold disperse and was handling other deadlines. Fortunately wind bands with 50 mph gusts were the worse I experienced. However, one did not know until the very end if it might turn and come onto shore. It was a deadly game of chance, like Russian Roulette. You sensed it wouldn't hit the land but who really knew? One could not actually believe what was out there. If a bully picked on you, you often remained in a state of denial. This didn't really happen to me you said to yourself. Same with this. You can't believe its really happening.
I received some calls from friends, many single down in Florida, inquiring how I was and telling me how they were fairing. Other people have left the area. I have my art and belongings here and won't. If a window breaks and your place floods its all gone. My nextdoor neighbor was to have a birthday party for me, inviting just people in our building and across the street, but her kids bought tickets for her to go to California. One feels kind of deserted when this happens. If single and living alone you face your fate just by yourself in your own box. This truth is hammered home during this time. Hence the calls, which have value but still are not the real thing. If family and friends aren't there physically with you, its really just you. Talk ends up just talk, having a place but not physical and supportive help.
Some people were cavalier, saying it won't come on shore, it's done or gone. I definitely felt their arrogance or cockiness was not respectful to the forces that be. God could not be pleased with such smugness. One is humbled by the potential of such force. The good thing is that some remaining people do tend to be nicer. A common threat soothes the nerves and puts all your problems on the back burner. You are all frail humans facing possible devastation.
Speaking of the above, I received a call from a friend talking about the month of Elul in Judaism which is around this time. It is the most profound and thoughtful time of year leading to the holidays in the next Jewish month. The general tone is to realize how one has strayed and behaved badly at times and to be sorry for this and try to improve and do better in the future (not always easy to translate into modern times. Life is complex and good and bad are muddled. Should one show soft love, tough love? How about a million aggravations and catch 22's. How does one live this? Still, one has to sift through it all). My friend described shooting an arrow at a target. It might miss but its an attempt to better yourself, who you are, even if you miss the mark. My friend followed this by saying 'if God sees this sincerity and good intentions in you, he will write you in the Book of Life, and you will live another year.' Basic but speaks to the heart, at least to me.
The Book of Jonah and Psalm 27 allude to this in their own ways and are read during this time. Indeed, Jonah was swallowed by a whale in the depths of the ocean and brought back to life to appreciate what is good and the grace available and gave up his resentment and hate. (Aren't we always having silent verbal arguments with others in our heads? He was angry the sinful city was not destroyed and that God withheld punishment.) David in the psalm remained confident in the maker and put his faith there even when surrounded by those who would kill and mutilate him. Facing a hurricane with 185mph winds possibly coming right at you and then turning at the very last day was a Jonah like experience. There could have been destruction and it could have been the end but after the scare mercy was shown. Indeed, after this possible plunge came the realization my birthday was coming up and I did live another year. That means something even though it looks back. With some humility hopefully I'll get to live another year.
So yes, this is a heavy time of year.