Irma threat brings new fears

Even before Hurricane Harvey landed, I found myself thinking about our experience of Hurricane Matthew and the ongoing recovery work. One thing that we haven’t heard or talked much about is the recovery from the trauma and drama of Hurricane Matthew.

When we experience trauma, it’s not just the memories that haunt us. When another experience like the one that caused us trauma comes around again, all the trauma resurfaces. We become anxious, stressed, distressed, depressed, even fearful. This often occurs without us even realizing it.

As we enter the intensity of the hurricane season, we all need to be more aware of our emotions and thoughts. We humans have so many gifts. One is that we have the gift of being able to “be aware that we are aware.” We have this gift of “double awareness” that provides us with the opportunity to relate to emotions and thoughts — and the trauma buried within them — without reacting to them. We can become aware of them, and then slowly and intentionally choose to feel a more helpful emotion or thought that takes us out of our pain, our anger, or our fear.

Now, we hear of Hurricane Irma coming westward, not knowing which path it will actually take. As we hear this, our trauma rises, our stress, pain, fear, and anger rise also and we relive Hurricane Matthew.

May we all recognize the trauma in our lives so that we can process it, let it go, and release it. Holding on to any pain, anger, and fear, particularly that which is traumatic, is unhealthy and destructive. May we all be aware that we are blessed with another gift of awareness — a “triple awareness.” That, along with being “aware that we are aware,” we have the opportunity to be aware, and constantly be with, the very source and center of all life that binds us together, that sustains us, that is the “still small voice.”

This is the power of the merciful mystery, the sacred source, the divine doer, the serenity of Spirit, the legion of love. Ultimately, this is the most powerful awareness with which we can focus and frame our actions and world, even in the midst of the most horrifying storms of our lives, no matter their cause.

Rev. Mac Legerton