Luna is very unsettled this evening. She has looked at me a few times as if to say I’m way too old for hurricanes. I have tried to explain this is Ophelia and that she will come and go but the truth of the matter is I am not sure myself whether this frenzied whipping of trees and mad dance of leaves is the beginning of Ophelia or her end. My poor boxer dog is bewildered by the rattle of the garage door, the sudden thumps and the eerie whistling through the house and of course is wondering what its all about. As indeed am I.
We have been preparing for this from yesterday and indeed all today. Many people have spent today wondering how bad will it be. Is this a lot of hype about nothing? Will it rip up our property? How dangerous is it? Hopefully it will pass us by peacefully. Today there was a crowd in the home bakery, there was no milk left on the shelf. The long line for the ATM reminded me of the panic there can be at Christmas. Suddenly we found ourselves worrying about so many things that we normally take for granted. Food, water, light, heat and indeed shelter, our very homes themselves. Will we be alright? Will we have enough?
Yes tonight the wind is rattling every thing round me, it’s a little bit chilly and yes the rain is pounding the windows as I speak but I am very conscious that I have the luxury tonight of worrying about the nervousness of my eleven year old boxer dog, Luna Lovegood. This is a luxury. This is privilege. This is a reminder that I live within the comfort zone of the top twenty five percent of people who do not have to worry about heat, light, water, food and shelter. There was a suggestion that certain buildings, including some large city centre churches, be opened tonight for people to take shelter from the storm. This of course has merit. However it reminds us that there are those who may well need to come in out of the storm and take shelter. What will happen them after the storm? What do they return to?
The shaking and rattling of Ophelia may act as a little reminder of all that we have. The comfort, the reassurance that we do not have to spend much time worrying about the basics. Our worries today included the trees in the garden, the loose shovel, is our phone charged up enough, where exactly have we the torches, candle and matches? Will all that food in the freezer go to waste if there is a power cut? Will the power be on for me to do the fry up? For many people in our world tonight there is no freezer, no food. No garden, no house, no charger and no phone. For many of our brothers and sisters a tree is more than an extra in the garden but a place to hid the sleeping bag and a few belongings.
No the Lord did not send Ophelia to test us or to teach us a lesson. However can we learn anything as Ophelia passes through Ireland? Could we start by giving some thought tonight to those for whom Ophelia and her like are more than hassle or inconvenience but actually pose serious threat. Let us think and then move to prayer for those for whom the real question tonight is where will I take shelter? How will I keep warm? Where, not what, is my next meal? From prayer can we go further? Can we share? Could we be their voice? Could we be their advocate? Is there a resolution or a mission that I could take on? How might it sound? Could it be something like this?
I resolve on this night of Ophelia to not rest, not shut up, not give up until there are no people on this little island of ours who have to worry about where they will shelter on a given night nor be anxious as to where the next meal will come from. (Serious Catholics might add ‘I make this resolution in Jesus’ name’!)
As news comes in of people who have died as a result of Ophelia I pray for them and in a special way I pray for those who are now plunged into the pain of grief. I pray for those who are coping with the impact of this storm and I ask the Lord to protect and be with all those who on this wild night are out trying to serve others. As you read this Ophelia will have passed by but as followers of Jesus let us learn from her shake. This learning, this remembering we do as followers of Jesus, who we remember is the Lord of wind and rain. Perhaps as you read this there is a storm within you or within your family. If so remember this:
‘And with that he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and all was calm again. The men were astounded and said, ‘ Whatever kind of man is this? Even the winds and sea obey him’