“What do you think Spirit is saying to us through Hurricane Sandy?” A New York friend asked me a few days ago. The question rolled around in my mind over the past few days and honestly, I have come to the conclusion that this is simply a question impossible for me or anyone else to answer in broad terms. The concept of Spirit is infinitely diverse: what Spirit means to me is specific to me and different from what Spirit means to my mother or next door neighbor. And that is as it should be for we are all moving on different paths with different challenges and lessons along the way.
So I speak for myself when I say Spirit is within us and connects us to all that is. It is important to understand the definition of us in that statement. When I use that term I refer to ALL things: the Earth, Sky, Clouds, Plants, Animals, Rocks, Mountains, Insects, Reptiles, Birds, Planets, Moon, and Sun…need I go on? In this context the word “us” encompasses everything within and without my realm of experience. “Did I think Spirit sent the hurricane to remind us of what is important?” If I say yes to that, then I am returning to my Catholic roots of a terrible and merciless God; one who smites those who stray. Roots of guilt I pulled up long ago as I forged my spiritual path. If I say yes to that, then I am removing Spirit from within and installing it back on the crumbling pedestal of my youth. This I cannot do.
This morning when I walked the desert, the question of Hurricane Sandy kept gurgling up through my thoughts followed by the words “quid pro quo”. The Great Law of the Iroquois holds appropriate the responsibility to think seven generations ahead when making decisions today. This Law recognizes Mother Earth as a living entity; one that supports life in all ways. She gives us resources to build our homes, fuel our cars, and nourish our bodies. Mankind even uses those resources to build great ships to explore space and tiny chips that operate our smart phones. I thank her for the resources that built the laptop I write on so quickly and efficiently. Yet how does mankind thank her? We deplete her resources, often without thought, and it seems we are never sated. Yet, we forget that as mankind continues to grow and evolve so too does Mother Earth. More and more the Earthly changes are the result of mankind’s disregard for Earthly blessings. Is the cataclysmic impact of Hurricane Sandy on mankind any greater than the impact of man’s depletion of our environmental resources? Quid pro quo.
Yet, as terrible as these natural disasters are, Spirit moves me to hold to a different perspective, to see this as an opportunity for heroes to emerge. Not only the leaders of the nation who are offering comfort and aid, but the father who scooped his child up and held her tight through the storm; the grandmother who brought hot cups of coffee to the rescue workers; the utility repairmen working feverishly for days on end to restore power. This is Spirit: the people who dig deep within to find Spirit and honor it through their words and actions, however small they might seem. Those everyday people who recognize the connections between us all and choose to use challenge as a opportunity to strengthen the bonds rather than sever them. Did I think Spirit was trying to tell us what is important? If we listen, Spirit tells us this every day, but sometimes in the haste of life, it falls on deaf ears. Ultimately crisis returns us to a state of appreciation and humility, and it is those things that are the foundation of Spirit, the foundation of self. Did Spirit send the hurricane? I don’t know the answer. But I do know I see Spirit in the eyes and actions of all who are reaching out to assist those in need yesterday, today and beyond.