Tag Archives: hurricane

Sandy 2012

Natural disasters like Sandy, the hurricane that struck the east coast of the United States, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and other nations of the Carribean provoke the question: Where is God in all of this? “It’s a wake-up call,” a woman ahead of me at the polling booth on election day said.

Jesus said the same thing when he spoke of a falling tower that killed 18 people in Siloam. (Luke 13,4-5)  Natural disasters are part of the “signs of the times” that call us to repent.

They keep us real about life. The storm surge from Hurricane Sandy came in from the ocean and hit my sister’s house in Lake Como, NJ, around 9:30 PM, Monday evening, October 29th, 2012. Power had gone off around 5PM. I heard what I thought was a clap of thunder, but actually it was part of the foundation of the house under the bedroom where I was sleeping falling down before the surge of water. Looking out the back window I could see waves of waters breaking against the house and I could hear driving winds shaking the trees.

In the front of the house facing the street I could see the surge of water breaking over my sister’s car parked in the driveway. The waters came up to the first step on the porch of her house and then stopped. In the dark I couldn’t see anything beyond what was lit by a small flashlight.

The next day the waters subsided and you could see fish from Lake Como jumping in the streams of water on the street. Outside my bedroom window I saw a heron diving for fish in the waters in our backyard.

Most of the people on 21st Street stayed through the storm; a number of them had generators. They were out on the streets the next day cleaning up and assessing the damage which along the Jersey Shore must be in the millions of dollars. They were thankful to be alive. My sister abandoned the house.

There was kindness that day. Dave from down the street came with two cups of coffee. Richie from across the street pushed my sister’s car from the watery driveway to a higher part of the street. Bill and Joe tried to get her car started but to no avail. Susan and Bob came to drive her to a friend’s house and me to the rectory.

There were offers of food, shelter, showers. Cell phones were charged, water was provided. So much was lost, but it also brought a sense of reality: “Naked I came into this world, and naked I shall return.”

Also, I could hear a favorite saying of my mother: “We got this far.”

Here’s a video of that storm:  

Good Night, Irene

Irene got our attention this weekend on the east coast of USA, from Miami to Washington to New York City and to Boston. The hurricane took over television, governments, businesses, transit systems, entertainments as nothing else has done since the terror attack on the World Trade Center ten years ago. For a couple of days, Irene turned our regular human preoccupations upside down.

Mayor Bloomberg and other government officials kept referring to “Mother Nature”   when they spoke of her. Respect her, they said, and for the most part we listened, though typically some of “Mother Nature’s” children ignored her threats.

Jim Keane, SJ, has a piece in the America Blog entitled “The Mountains Melt Like Wax,”where he asks what our expanding knowledge of creation means for our faith in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and our understanding of our place as humans in this world. We’re not only learning more about weather systems like Irene, but we’re  also finding out much more about a “Mother Nature” who’s more complex, more powerful, older and more mysterious than we ever thought. She demands respect.

“If our notion of time keeps expanding, and our notion of space does the same, that particular moment of the Incarnation can seem more and more vanishingly discrete.” Sharing this mystery we humans have to wonder about our place in an expanding picture of the universe.

Keane points to Christian thinkers like  Roger Haight, SJ, Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, William Lynch, SJ, Teilhard de Chardin, SJ and David Toolan, SJ. who faced this question.

I would add Thomas Berry, CP.

We like to see ourselves and our human world as the center of everything, and then Irene comes along. Jim Keane put it this way: “In other words, recognizing the immensity of space and the eternity of time might prove a valuable wakeup call for all of us:  it’s not just about you, pal.”

Besides expanding knowledge of our universe, how about Irene? Is she part of a wakeup call? If so, it’s not wise to sing “Good night, Irene.”