Pentecost 140

Pentecost 140
My Psalms 140

The Storms of our Lives

It’s a picnic! You plan the food and are sure to have foods that can withstand the temperatures of the day and the available coolers. You take a blanket for the ever-so-lovely afternoon relaxation. The day dawns and the weather is wonderful. The company pleasing, the entertainment good but not too great so that one can stay relaxed. It’s all going great until …. Suddenly there is a rumble and from nowhere a dark cloud threatens the entire day. Within three minutes, you are caught in a sudden downpour. So much for your calm, restful picnic!

We’ve all had those days. For parents of special needs kids or children of parents with mental health issues, those days can be more the norm than the exception. President Abraham Lincoln lived through many such days. His wife Mary Todd Lincoln was described as a very dramatic woman but this increased greatly after she suffered a fall in 1863. Subsequent deaths of her sons Eddie and Willie and later her husband’s assassination reduced Mrs. Lincoln’s health and confined her to her home and bed. Abraham Lincoln was no stranger himself to moods. It is mentioned in the book “Lincoln’s Enduring legacy”, edited by Robert P. Watson, William D. Pederson, and Frank J. Williams, that he told a close friend Joshua Speed that he wanted to live in order to provide his life with meaning …”to the interest of his fellow man.”

Everything in life comes with a struggle of some sort, a storm to be weathered. Having a belief system requires living those beliefs. Whether it is via an organized religion, belonging to a group favoring a particular spirituality, being in a club or just walking your own path in solitude, having a course determined by adopting certain beliefs (and yes, choosing to not believe is actually its own belief!), you end up making decisions. In a very old television program, “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, the father figure tells his young son: “The only thing wrong with deciding something is that you are also deciding not to do something. No matter what you choose, you are always not choosing something else.”

Having sense of humor helps when making a decision and weathering life’s storms. The website http://www.hellogiggles.com recently published a lovely post by Andrea Arrizza regarding the decision angst of ordering pizza. Included is the waiting time, the anticipation, deciding which pizza to order, that first bite which ultimately means all other bites will be a let-down, the dilemma of whether or not to use utensils when eating the pizza, the crust – which type, how to eat it, whether to eat together, all at once, or save to the end. All considerations involved with getting and eating a pizza; all decisions to make; so many consequences possible that requiring resolution. {If you want to stop reading now and go get a pizza, I’ll understand!]

The thing is that living brings about both sunny days and stormy weather. Sometimes the gale winds are of our own making but often we are caught unawares in tornados brought about by others. How do we save ourselves from the storms of life?

Emotional outbursts actually have a great deal in common with tornados. Derived from the Spanish word “tronada”, which means “thunderstorm and the Latin “tonare”, meaning “to thunder”, a thunderstorm is a rotating column of air. There are various types and many are not visible but they all rotate. Often a tornado begets a cell of storms and other tornados are formed. Likewise, an emotional outburst can result in other outbursts and negative feelings. One person’s bad mood seldom begins and ends with just that one person. They can be contagious, as alluring as the smell of pizza.

Tornados d not just appear, though. Unlike the sudden storm that can dampen, literally, a picnic, a tornado must have certain atmospheric conditions present. The rotation is determined based upon location, as proven with the Coriolis Effect. However, the size of the storm matters as does the one requirement for the Coriolis Effect to exist – a rotating earth. The Coriolis Effect describes the deflection of a moving object in a rotating frame while Newton’s Laws of Motion describe an inert frame of reference. In other words, how an object moves is dependent on where it is moving and its base.

Let’s apply this to the human emotional tornado. As long as it has nowhere to rotate or move, it will play itself out and become inert. However, when we buy into the storm of another, we then help it to rotate, gain strength, and then perhaps spawn one of our own. We then become the emotional outburst which we disliked from another. We don’t have to follow the storm, making others. We can stand strong and mine for miracles instead of creating the dark clouds.

Weathering the storms of life requires a solid and constant base of belief and that must be lived daily. It also requires a commitment to live a life of meaning. A life lived with purpose is a strong life. A well-built house can weather most storms and so can a well-built personality with a solid belief system. It begins and ends with a life lived “to the interest of his [her] fellow man.” Faith can be our storm shelter.

My Psalm 140

O Master and Creator of all,
Deliver me from my enemies,
Even when I am my own worst enemy.
Let me see another’s suffering as temporary
And not borrow their misery.
Let me do what I can for my fellow man.
Guard my tongue;
Help me to be strong and not follow.
Protect me from those who would seek my downfall.
Lead me through the brambles of life.
Hear my prayers, O Mighty One.
Guide down the paths of goodness for all.
In you I place my trust.
You are my salvation and deliverance.

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