“You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me….The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head at the roots of the mountains.” (Jonah 2: 3, 5-6)
Surrounded by the flood? Not yet. But the electricity just flickered for the first time…and when an official from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that we’re about to see a storm we’ve never seen before–a “billion dollar storm”–we pay attention. So here’s the view from my front porch, and I’m wondering how many of those leaves–and those azalea flowers, which aren’t even supposed to be blooming at this time of year–will be left by this time tomorrow.
“Yeah, yeah,” you say, “you and everyone else in the path of Sandy are blogging about it while you still have electricity.” And you’re probably right. But I wonder how many of the people who’ll blog about this storm will read the Common Lectionary for the day and tilt their heads at the coincidence.
Here’s the thing: I follow my church’s Common Lectionary to center myself at the beginning of each day. (And I’ve recently started exploring the holy texts of some other faiths as well, and it’s surprising how often our texts tell similar stories or say the same thing in truly poetic ways.) The Common Lectionary readings are chosen by leaders of a number of denominations as a two-year cycle of readings for personal reflection. And the Old Testament reading today–chosen long ago as part of a two-year cycle–is from the Book of Jonah, and it says, in part:
Now I don’t believe that God is some master puppeteer who is up in the ether pulling the marionette strings and watching us dance. But that coincidence does make me tilt my head and go, Hmmm. It makes for interesting conversation with my friends who are thinking evangelicals…and even my friends who are deeply reflective atheists.
One of my friends texted this to me recently after reading an earlier post: “I still don’t know the who or even if I believe the ‘is’ of God, but I do know that my life is enriched by your existence in it.” And I feel the very same way about her. And I find that sort of honesty much more rational and logical than the false prophets who’ve been warning us for thousands of years that earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis are God’s punishment for our transgressions.
And so, my friends, at the end of this storm may we all find that the great is has kept us through the storm and that, as Jonah was spewed out onto dry land in today’s reading, so may we find ourselves–safe and dry. And if we are not, may we dismiss those voices who point accusing fingers and arm ourselves with compassion and courage to face the aftermath of the flood.