It is in the very nature of life and our living of it that we will face the inevitable storm or two. The frequency and the intensity of storms brought our way is often beyond our immediate control. Our response to some storms may be to dig our heels and stay in place. For others, we may need to seek safe harbor with friends, family or even strangers, as we seek help tp ride out the storm. Often, the effectiveness of our response depends on our ability and willingness to listen to our instincts and trust the intuition of those who have our best interests at heart.
In watching the impact of the storms that battered large parts of Texas and neighboring states, and those that are causing much damage in the Caribbean and threaten the east coast as I write this, I pause and wonder. What could the majority of people who were (and will be) impacted by such storms have done different to minimize their pain and suffering? I am not sure. The answer probably is, not much. They were largely at the mercy of ‘thousand year rains’, ‘mother nature’s fury’, ‘unprecedented weather patterns’ and such. Such is the nature of our external storms that impact our lives.
The storms of our inner lives bear many similarities to such external storms. Inspite of our best preparedness, we are often caught unawares by things like the sudden passing of a parent, the cancer diagnosis and dire prognosis of a good friend, and such. It is in situations like these that the strength of our inner fortications is tested. The inner storm’s intensity may force us to seek safe harbor for a short while, to regroup and reassess our strengths. For some, safe harbors may take the form of personal or group prayer, meditation, reflection and such. Others may find safe harbor by springing into individual or community action – activity gives them inner calm because they are doing ‘something’.
Self-reliance is a great quality to develop, as our greatest strength is often our own inner resilience. But I would posit that even the strongest among us have at least once in their lives sought and received sanctuary in grace. It is perhaps in the safe-harbors of grace that we found time, space and resources to renew our strengths, repair our sails, and venture out into life’s oceans once again.
What do your (spiritual) safe harbor(s) look like? Do you feel that you have access to adequate ‘safe harbor’ resources that you can retreat to in times of life’s storms? Have you ever served as a first-responder ‘safe harbor’ resource for others? How can we build kindness-first, action-oriented, safe-harbor communities that people can trustfully retreat to without fear of being judged?
For those of us in relative safety, we have the opportunity, even the luxury, of examining these safe-harbor questions. May we do so, so that when the opportunity comes, we can serve as safe-harbors through our actions.
P.S. Join us Sunday, Septemeber 10th at 9amET/1pmUTC for our weekly chat on twitter in #SpiritChat. We will ask and answer some questions about safe harbors, and take some actions (as a community) to serve those who need us to be one. Namaste.
A Harbor at St Martin in the Caribbean