Sixty million Americans in the North East are bracing for the 'monster' storm heading towards them with high winds, extreme tides, and flooding. The freakish nature of the storm is due to a historic combination of two other weather systems that are joining with Hurricane Sandy and will affect over 800 miles with predictions in some areas of 12 inches of rain, 2 feet of snow and 40-50 mph winds.
As people run to buy back up lights and water bottles, there is an eerie silence hanging on the edge of the wind. Two hours ago NYC announced the closings of its mass transit and school systems. The NY Stock Exchange has been forced to shut down and will remain closed all day Monday. Thousands of flights have been canceled and so far 375,000 people have been ordered to leave the NY area. Thousands of others have been evacuated from other coastal areas across the north east.
The winds are picking up speed as the last of the autumn leaves blow furiously off the branches all around us. As the heavy rain begins, we watch from our windows as the wind carries away anything and everything in its path. It is frightening how small we really are in the face of the hugeness of the storm.
But there is also something achingly beautiful in the echo of the howling wind. At first I can't name it. It's something that makes us wonder, that stops us for a moment as the lights flicker and the torrents of water pound upon the roof. And then I realize what it is that keeps me glued to the windows as Frankenstorm descends upon us. It's awe.
There is something about a storm of this caliber that reminds us how insignificant we are in the vastness of the universe. It reminds us that we are exquisitely vulnerable in every aspect of our lives. If you stand outside even for a few seconds in winds of this magnitude, you feel somehow inextricably connected with the power of the storm, connected to something beyond yourself. It’s as if you can momentarily touch the ultimate harmony and beauty that hides in the ordinary world.
When we are filled with awe, we can begin to appreciate the depth of our own potential. We see the impossible, the improbable, the awesomeness around us, and we realize that we have this inside of us too.
And then there is the awe for the Creator of Frankenstorm. For the One who closes down NYC. Who sends 70mph winds and drenching rains to wake us up. To tell us that He is here and communicating with us. He wants us to see the beauty. He wants us to drink in the awe.
And He wants us to bring this awe into our daily lives where we so often forget how huge and beautiful the world really is. How do we take with us that moment standing by the window in the middle of an enormous storm? How do we channel the relentless flowing of the water that taps into our own wellsprings of potential?
Here are five ways to bring the awe of Frankenstorm into your life:
Bring in the New: We are submerged in repetitive routines. They are important and give structure to our lives. But we can always bring something new into our lives each day. Perhaps a song we never heard. Or a book we haven't read. Or a food we don't usually eat. Each day has its own potential and uniqueness. Find it.
Connect to Nature: Pay attention when you walk outside at different times of the day, even if you live in a city. Notice the color of the sky at dawn. The glistening of the leaves. The sparkles in the sidewalk in the afternoon sun. The glow of the moon. The endlessness of the stars. If we take a moment to absorb the harmony and depth of nature we will feel this sense of awe each day even if we are outside for a few minutes. But we need to stop. To look. And say: "Wow."
Learn: It doesn't matter what you learn, but it needs to inspire you. Something small and doable every day. And write down the quotes from what you learn so that you can keep them with you. When we expand our intellectual horizons, we find ourselves glimpsing the infinite possibilities inherent in our daily lives. Learning is one of the few parts of our lives that can never end and can always be depended upon for awe fuel.
Observe young children: Small children have a natural wonder and awe for everything around them. Because so much is new and exciting for them, they approach the day with the kind of energy that only a two-year-old can jump out of bed with. And if we watch them closely, we can absorb some of their enthusiasm. Look! These Cheerios look like a tree when they’re all mushed together like this. Look, a helicopter in the sky! Look, look, look! If we look with them, sometimes we can see what they see.
Pray: Talk to your Creator. Ask Him for what you need. Thank Him for the beautiful, amazing world that He creates anew each day. Find awe by connecting it back to its ultimate Source. Even if you have never prayed before, all it takes is one sentence: Thank You for this beautiful world and for everything that You give me. Try it. It's a shortcut to that moment of awe we all feel in the middle of a storm.
The winds will soon die down and the rain will slowly fade. But right now I'm listening to the message in the fury of the storm. Wake up. Wake up! Here is a freakish monster storm that surpasses everything we ever knew. Use it. Remember it. Hold onto the awe.