“Even the mighty fall, Mom,” my son remarked as he looked out into our garden and saw that the huge traveler’s palm tree that had stood as an imposing presence on our lawn since he was a baby was now lying prostrate on the ground.
What “Milenyo” and “Ondoy” had failed to do, “Pedring” accomplished swiftly in one afternoon.
I’m a tree-lover, but I wasn’t particularly fond of this one. For many years, the traveler’s palm tree had towered over our garden. It was beautiful to photograph, but was really more of a form-than-function type of tree. Though it provided shade, it also took away much of the sunlight, such that it was always a struggle to make the plants and flowers beneath it bloom. I was always afraid that on one stormy day, it would come crashing down, hit our roof and create great havoc in our home and garden.
When Pedring’s winds came raging through our village last Tuesday, the tree first threatened to bend toward the direction of the house. But a divine wind blew and bent it in the opposite direction until it finally fell to the ground. Later that day, towards dusk, when everything had quieted down, I looked down from my bedroom window and gazed at it in the fading light. The traveler palm tree’s journey had come to an end.
I felt sad for a while as I gazed at the fallen tree. It was, after all, a part of the garden’s history and had been immortalized in many family photographs. And then my gaze fell on the empty space where it once stood. In its place, where once there were only shadows, light had begun to pour through the bamboo slats that were once covered by the tree. The garden was now awash in peace and a gentle light after the tree had fallen, and the storm had passed.
In my head I began to craft new plans for the vacant space—a bird bath perhaps where the mayas could congregate each morning and wake me with their happy twittering as they splashed about?
All shapes and sizes
Storms come in all shapes and sizes. Over the past 40-something years, I’ve been in the eye of quite a few. Some of them would be classified as a category 4 typhoon of Ondoy-like proportions, while some would rank a category 3, much like Pedring was.
Some would have enough wind to knock me off my balance, while others, more rain that had me drenched in tears for many weeks. After every storm, I would pull myself up, always strengthened by a Divine hand, cleaning out the debris, allowing His light to shine through the cracks.
For some people, storms can come in a diagnosis of cancer, or a child’s developmental or mental disability. For parents, it can be when the school principal or guidance office summons them to school for a child’s infraction. It can arrive in the form of a dreaded phone call saying that a loved one has been in an accident. For some, it can be the disclosure that your husband or wife decides they no longer want to be married to you, or the end of a long-term relationship. Your storm can be the day your boss calls you into her office to let you know they will have to let you go at the end of the month.
When the storms come barreling, the question that often arises is, where is God when the winds pick up and the rough waters pummel your boat in such a way that it feels ready to capsize any minute?
I was reminded of the Bible story where Jesus asks Peter to come and walk on the water. Peter was doing well, walking on the water as long as he kept his eye on Jesus. It was at the moment when he chose to focus on something else that he started to fear and fall.
In the eye of every storm, He is with us. When the winds howl and the rains pour incessantly, that’s when we are challenged to sit still inside that rocky boat and allow the Navigator to set our sails and take full control.
Sometimes, the command is for us to get out of the boat, and the challenge is to go with His flow and follow where He leads. It’s never easy, and no matter how deep your faith is, you will still fail, fall and fumble through the storm.
However, every storm you are able to sail through expands your faith and teaches you to fumble less and how to sit tight. When fear gets the better of you and you feel like jumping ship, you only need to remember that God is where He has always been and always will be—in the midst of every stormy circumstance, no matter what form it takes.
In the eye of the storm, He sits with you, and all you need to do is ride it out, wait for the storm to pass and be still.