Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Tempest

"A violent windstorm, especially one with rain, hail, or snow; a violent commotion, disturbance, or tumult."  These are some of the adjectives that define/describe the powerful word, "tempest."  Some may better associate this word with the famous play, "The Tempest," written by William Shakespeare in early 17th century, where upon returning to Italy from a wedding in North Africa, a ship party is hit with a horrible storm on the sea, soon one of the characters reveals to the another that they arranged the shipwreck, which becomes clear along with other plots and themes as the play continues.  Essentially what the word and the play bring to mind is a violent storm.  Usually we associate this with natural or physical phenomena, like hurricanes, thunder storms, and blizzards and as a consequence, we can see the outside effects of "mother nature" fairly readily.

But, what the play and even a closer look at the word "tempest" may not readily indicate to the naked eye is that sometimes we each undergo our own tempest.  Sometimes it is caused or orchestrated by someone and we unfortunately bare the brunt of the storm.  However, sometimes it is also that we ourselves are in inner turmoil.  Sometimes we are in the storm of inner turmoil for a long time, looking for calmer seas, a life boat, or heck even just a life jacket so that we can at least feel like we can float through the tosses and turns of the storm.  Sometimes, we don't show that there is a storm going on, we keep in, go day through day as best we can and partially because we are hopeful and partially because are instinct knows no other way, but to persist, even when the shore is nowhere in sight, even though this can be more exhausting than the tempest itself.

I think this ties in with the life of a Christian fairly well or at least those of us who are still so infantile in our Christianity, our understanding of the mystery still seems so limited, where God wants us seems so unknown, we almost think we are lost or forgotten.  We want to be better, but find ourselves falling short of graces to deal with our fellow brother and sister.  We grow tired, we grow impatient.  But, we need to remember that he, God is always there and perhaps our tempests are part of a larger plan, even when it is so difficult because we have no idea when the storm inside us will end or which island our little torn and tattered boat will end up on, and I guess that is the scary part.  I guess what is the senseless part is trying to steer the boat through the tempest.  Why do we try to steer, when the waves are so much larger, that any steering is literally insanity, because it does nothing at all? It definitely is not helping and perhaps just makes it worse, but you do it because the steering makes you feel like you have control, but the tempest laughs at you the whole time while you’re turning that wheel like a mad man, because it knows that the little wheel you are steering is no match for this storm.  I guess once again this is where surrender comes in.  I guess this is where you throw your hands to the dark sky, with its rain, with its hail and you say fine and ride through it, even if you do not know what you are riding through or what the purpose is.

I think the tempest, in an "inner" sense of the word is brought on by vacillation of all sorts, but also by the feeling of being lost.  I think when we veer away from God, even if just for a brief time, this tempest has then an easy and fast way of settling in, especially if it knows you are vulnerable and especially if it knows that you are open to it.  I think that is why, even when it is difficult, one must arm their ship (meaning themselves) with Christ and ask for one thing and one thing only, his will and direction.  This is hard, as we so often want to steer our own wheel, be the master of our own ship.

"The mind and intellect of Christians are always centered on heavenly thoughts.  They gaze on heavenly things because they participate in the Holy Spirit.  Because they have been born above from God and are children of God in truth and power, they have arrived, through many labors and sweat endured over a long time, at a state of equilibrium, tranquility and peace, freed from further sifting.  They no longer vacillate back and forth, tossed about by crippling and vain thoughts.  In this they are greater  and better than those of the world, because their intellect and thinking of the soul is permeated by the peace of Christ and the love of the Spirit, as the Lord had in mind when he said:  "They had passed from death to life" (John 5:24)...

"Dear Lord, let me be the Christian you are calling me to be, centered on heavenly thoughts.  Let your will be done, let me know who I am, so that I no longer vacillate back and forth, tossed about this tempest by crippling and vain thoughts. You are my refuge and I need to see you in my life.  Amen.

Psedo-Marcarius.  "What the Pharisees Rejected."  Magnificat.  Vol 13 (8).  October 2011.