Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Of calm and the storm

In Befriending Life: Encounters with Henri Nouwen, filmmaker Bart Gavigan tells the story of a crumpled napkin, saved from an evening at an Italian restaurant with Henri Nouwen.

"Henri whipped out a pen, grabbed his napkin, and scribbled furiously.  The dark squiggles, he declared, were the waves of a storm-tossed ocean: our pressurized, stressed lives.  

Yet far below these churning waves, he demonstrated with huge gesticulation, there is stillness and silence in the murky blackness of the ocean floor.  And true peace, Christ's peace, is reached only by plunging down, under the crashing waves of crises that beset our daily lives, to find that eternal peace that is always there, available to us, no matter what is happening on the surface."

The sea in this picture, shot on the beach at LaPush, Washington (where I went with my daughter when she was in the throes of her Twilight fascination) was not all that storm-tossed, but you could definitely see the rain approaching -- which is one of the pleasures of long views like this one.

On the other hand, for my friends who do tend to take the longer views on life, storms ahead seem to be mostly what they see/  They can't seem to relax and enjoy the calmer waters we're experiencing now, but are always bracing for the storms to come. 

"Do you know how many people are buying guns?" says one.  "Do you realize how many gang members there are in Seattle right now?" says another.  "He's living one paycheck away from the street, and he just doesn't get it," says a third.

Somehow we need to strike a balance between the churning that is now, awareness of the storms to come, and the serenity of knowing the deep peace that lies beneath it all.

Not a simple task...

No comments: