A World of Fire and Storm

As a soul, I searched the cosmos, looking for just the right opportunity, a place where I could explore the mysteries of existence, learn lessons, grow in compassion, live through a wide range of experiences from the bleakest tragedies to the most uplifting inspirations. My choices were endless; I looked at worlds upon worlds; through vast dimensions of possibilities.

I chose this place, this life, this tribe, this family and this time in a world that would be in flux, a world in crisis, a world of fire and storm. It was exactly here, this place and time that held the greatest possibilities for my searching, yearning soul. It was absolutely perfect.

And then almost immediately upon arriving, I forgot. For much of my life, I was lost in the struggle. But slowly, the voice of my soul began to rise up in joy, in delight, and in appreciation for the particular circumstances that had the power to unlock the great soul-treasures within. 

Those same particular circumstances have been puzzling and often disturbing to my little self who only wants to be loved, to attain success, comfort, or pleasure, or to fix the world that seems broken.

My soul could care less for achievement, for results. She only sees the possibilities, the promise of realizing wholeness, oneness, the truth of Divinity. She is delighted with this world of fire and storm. She came here for this adventure; she came here to be transformed, whatever the seeming cost. Sometimes the forces of transformation take the form of heartbreak, of suffering, of fire and storm. My little self cries, “NO!” My soul says, “YES, I came here for THIS!”

This past summer Eli and I led a canoe trip, a pilgrimage, down the Green River through the Canyonlands of southern Utah. We’ve done this many times before and never had even a drop of rain as we paddled through those deep mysterious desert canyons. This time, on the third day of our journey, we heard the rumble of thunder and quickly set up camp on a fragile sandbar. Well, the storm of the century barreled down that canyon, with fierce wind, sheets of rain, and thunder that echoed through the canyon all night long. It was a sound that was so awesome- thunder rolling in wave after wave, lightening flashing. In the morning I sang a prayer of gratefulness to have witnessed such power. We paddled in the rain, then shivered huddling together on a sand bar, paddling finally to dry land. Along the way we saw hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the steep red rock canyon walls, churning the surface of our once calm river with debris. Flash floods roiling down the side canyons, whipped at our canoes, reminding us that we were not in charge here. 

This was a pilgrimage, a microcosm of all of life’s challenges. We supported each other through the storm then helped each other dry out, recover our balance, repairing broken tent poles, calming frayed nerves with harmonies, hugs, soup, and a mythic perspective.

Later, Eli told his parents, both veteran river guides, about our adventure. He said, “When I told my 82 year old mom about the big storm and she cried, actually cried, that she had ‘missed it.’ She wished so badly to have been there.” 

I can’t help but believe that Eli’s mom held the soul perspective, a perspective that knows that it is the storm, however harrowing, that is the shaper of life, the powerful force of transformation, the gift we came here to receive.

Can I remember to receive this gift even in the midst of the storm? Can I remember  to allow the delight of my soul to shine through, even as I feel all my feelings fully through this storm-tossed journey of being human? Can I keep a joyful twinkle of delight in my eye, even as the tears flow?

 Shefa