<<As this blog post goes live, Hurricane Michael is nearing landfall not far from my home.>>
A couple of weeks ago I changed the background on my phone. As Hurricane Michael invades my part of the world, it feels especially apropos.
I changed it to an image of a Jack Pine forest. I’m certainly not an arborist or horticulturist or even a gardener, but I read an old devotion by Howard Thurman where he celebrated the Jack Pine and it moved me.
In “The Seed of the Jack Pine,” Thurman talks about how the seed stays dormant until it’s traumatized. Under the pressure of a forest fire, “[t]he tender seed finds the stirring of life deep within itself—and what is deepest in the seed reaches out to what is deepest in life.” From there, the seed becomes a “tender shoot” with “gentle roots” and later it grows “tall and straight.” Symbolically it grows toward heaven, toward God because God is the deepest truth of life.
Thurman says there are Jack Pine seeds deep in each human’s spirit, waiting to be activated by the inevitable trauma of the human life.
As the storm approaches, I can already anticipate the dormant seeds of hope and community that will be brought to life.
But I didn’t know a Hurricane was coming when I changed my phone background. I was moved by the analogy because I know the storms within my own heart.
Thurman’s words are a reminder that the pain and trauma of this moment (whatever moment that happens to be) are temporary and lead to something bigger and more beautiful.
Looking past the storm gives me the hope I need to dig into my internal reservoir of courage. I don’t need to minimize the fear, pain, or frustration of storms, both emotional and actual. Whether it’s Hurricane Michael barreling down on North Florida or Hurricane Beth stumbling around North Florida, I look forward to being on the other side of the storm, finding new growth unfurling “tall and straight.”
Considering all of this, I offer this prayer:
Holy and merciful God,
Teach me to be merciful with myself so that I can be merciful to others. Help me to weather the storms of life –emotional and actual, both of which carry hurricane-force winds and threaten to destroy.
Through it all, you are the God who makes things grow. Grow me, Lord. Grow my roots deep and my spiritual spine strong and straight, always reaching for you.