Have you ever been in a major hurricane? I am just back from Ireland and on this trip got more than I bargained for. I was in Co Mayo staying with a friend in a house beside the beach when Hurricane Ophelia came to visit us.
The west of Ireland is stunning at any time but this was something a bit different. On the morning of the hurricane we made a quick dash to the beach with the dogs who were not going to settle for an entire day indoors. The light was very strange, shadowy clouds crept in over brilliant shafts of light. Dark menacing swirls and bursts of light the two seemingly so comfortable side by side. Sometimes the dark would smother the light and all would become a bit sinister and then a hole would appear and the light would seep through drowning the darkness and brightening up the world.
How do we co-exist with dark and light? Is one good and the other bad? Are they mutually exclusive or can they sit side by side in our lives?
We are so afraid to let the blackness in, we think it will swamp us and we will never see the light again, but perhaps we need both.
As the storm drew closer, the wind and rain smashed against our windows and we drew nearer to the fire with the dogs. We thought of calmer times and discussed what it would be like at the end of the storm when peace was restored. I felt unsafe, exposed on this wild and rugged coastline and thoughts were running through my mind: ‘I should have driven back to Dublin before the storm hit, I should have tried to keep myself safer.’ Peering out of the window every five minutes, I kept a vigil on the hired car which I parked as close to the house as I dared, to keep it from flying objects.
Before the storm came there was an eerie stillness. Apparently at the centre of a hurricane where the winds swirl around there is a patch of complete calm. People who have experienced it talk of a very unique state. The inner part of the most dramatic of our storms is completely still.
When all around us is in turmoil, when the storms of life hit us with a vengeance can we find an inner place of calm? If we can, that would surely make us very powerful, just like the hurricane!
We spend time and energy trying to avoid the difficult times but we will never live without a certain amount of darkness. It is part of us. It is these moments that allow us to grow and thrive. Not until we understand those places can we truly appreciate the shafts of light that pierce through and transform our world.
If I had taken a safer option I would have missed the spectacle of dark and light, the drama of the storm and the feeling of calm that ensued. Perhaps it has also contributed to my journey where I am learning to find that inner calm, the place at the very centre where nothing stirs and where all is well.