There is a typhoon tonight. We have closed all the windows and doors, but you can still hear it – the rain battering down, yes, but the wind – ah, that incredible wind – a constant roar, all around you in the dark. It is the kind of wind that brings down branches of trees and rips off roofs. Still, what we have here is only what they raise a signal 2 warning for. Signal 3 is being raised down in the south, where the full strength of the typhoon is passing, and where there has already been fierce destruction.
Earlier today I had been frustrated about the slow progress of some work I’d been doing, intending to pick it up after dinner, but once the storm rose it hardly seemed important. We sat in the chapel for a while, lighting a few candles and simply listening to the storm. Prayer is wordless at a time like this, the words or concepts you might usually use dissolving in the raw power of nature around you. Your thoughts go to those who are suffering… But perhaps most of all you are still. Still in the sudden awareness of your vulnerability, of your creaturehood – of knowing you are not in control, that your life hangs by the thread of God’s mercy – that it always has. I have never felt my vulnerability as clearly before I came to the Philippines and experienced storms like this. How small I am in the midst of the storm. There is nothing to do but surrender.
Be still, the psalm says, and know that I am God.
Two days ago I went back to the office, 60 days after our lockdown began. It was a surreal, post-apocalyptic scene. We had been forced to abandon the place so suddenly that there had been no opportunity to put things in order, so we came back to spiderwebs, dying plants, food spoiling in the kitchen, and random things strewn about where we had last left them. When I walked into my room I saw the ‘earthquake supplies bag’ I had prepared a year before (after a major earth tremor), and laughed out loud at the incongruity of it. I had prepared for the wrong disaster.
How would I live if I understood, really, how small I am; how little I am in control of my life? Would I treasure every moment as grace, every connection as gift?
Help me to see, dear God, what the treasure is that is buried in the field of my everydays.