The Weather Outside is Frightful

Dear friends, this was written early Sunday morning just as the ice storm fell upon us. Shortly thereafter we lost our power and internet both. Power came back late Sunday, and we still await restoration of internet service. I managed to sneak this on via my daughter’s cell phone. So here it is, late but possibly made better by its accompanying wishes for a blessed holiday on this Christmas Eve.

_____________

The threat of having weather intrude inside is equally frightful. It seems, however, that something of this is occurring in southern Ontario. A severe ice storm warning is in effect for our region and beyond (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/major-ice-storm-hits-ontario-1.2472721). Power has already fallen in parts of the province as lines weighed down with ice collapsed under the strain of wind. People are advised to stock their shelves. Some years ago, a significant population of ours and Quebec were powerless for a significant chunk of time.
For someone who grew up in Alberta, I am always struck by the beauty and absurdity of ice storms. They were rare, very rare in my recollection. A quarter of an inch of ice so solid that it makes scraping the car window nigh impossible was not a part of my childhood experience, while it is of my children’s. This rugged beauty makes me imagine that there is something jarring about nature’s beauty.
There is a fundamental beauty in the power of nature. It reminds us that we are not in charge. It reminds us that we need to look to one another for support in facing the onslaught of forces beyond our control. It reminds us that God alone can promise a future, can redeem a past, can imbue my present with meaning and grace. Nature invites me to look up, but also to look around me.
I write this early, very early Sunday morning. The trees are bearing down under the ice and wind. I am safe in my little brick house. The Theilman family built this house so well 60 some years ago that we can hardly hear the wind gusts outside. My gas fireplace comforts me. All seems well inside, but the beauty outside is harsh in this longest night of the year. Earth may be deep in sleep but she is tossing and turning, thrashing in these sheets of white. I alone am awake in my house, which seems fitting since there is a kind of a solitude that comes with this weather, a solitude that is simultaneously a worry and a relief. It is a worry because the possibility of harm in ice storms is real. People die in these sorts of storms. One cannot under-estimate the power of nature, and its seemingly capricious nature. On the other hand, nature sometimes seems to force Sabbath on us. With its arrival comes a forced facing up to our humanity, to God’s majesty, and to the earth’s incomprehensibility.
Christians and Jews will recall that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” from Psalm 24:1. The weather , too, is the Lord’s and the beauty therein. If this weather has you hunkering down, use this time to recall the gift of community and the beauty of a world made strange by icicles that cross- etch creation, by sheets of silver refracting the subdued sun. Take some time, since this is time given you to recall that we are not God, individually nor collectively. And while an ice storm is not, in my humble opinion, an “act of God” as so many disclaimers in insurance policies purport, it surely Is used by God to awaken a chastened sense of self and a revive some sense of community. If you are someone under the assault of the storm on this Sunday, takes some time to soak in the beauty of it all and to witness the poetry of an earth that proposes that today a comma, a pause, a full stop might be in order.

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6 thoughts on “The Weather Outside is Frightful

  1. Marie Taylor says:

    I remember these powerful winter storms and they have a awe-full beauty to them as you point out. They can force us to stop and really look into ourselves and the world. Thank you for your many inspiring posts this year.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks Marie. We just got our internet back now, although we have had power since Sunday. Some people are still without power, and getting a bit desperate. There really is something awe-inspiring about the power of nature.

  2. shoreacres says:

    I trust that you’ve begun the process of recovery, and I certainly hope that you didn’t lose power. One of my friends in Michigan kept her power with their last storm, but was preparing to celebrate Christmas in a very unusual way – with a houseful of neighbors without power and none of the usual traditions like cookie baking.

    What you say reminds me of my favorite winter poem, from Emily Bronte.

    The night is darkening round me,
    The wild winds coldly blow ;
    But a tyrant spell has bound me,
    And I cannot, cannot go.

    The giant trees are bending
    Their bare boughs weighed with snow ;
    The storm is fast descending,
    And yet I cannot go.

    Clouds beyond clouds above me,
    Wastes beyond wastes below ;
    But nothing drear can move me :
    I will not, cannot go.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Many thanks for this beautiful poem, which I had not known. My youngest daughter came back from a run the other day and said she saw a cedar bent in half from the weight of ice, as if touching its toes, yet still not broken. We had a some branch loss on our big maple out front, but nothing to serious given the size of the tree. We were without power for most of Sunday, and just got internet back today. We had a lovely Christmas all the same.

  3. jannatwrites says:

    I hope you managed to stay safe in the storm. I’ve never been in an ice storm, but the threat of losing power (and with it, heat) would be frightening.

    “…waken a chastened sense of self and a revive some sense of community” – I wonder if that isn’t the case. It is a fitting reminder that control is not in our hands.

    • agjorgenson says:

      We rode the storm quite safely, although there was a period during which we all hunkered down in our house because of the random falling of branches. I have gathered a good bit of wood for our summer fire pit, and we have a big pile of twigs etc for garbage. There are still people without power, and we just got back our internet yesterday. But it is interesting how these events get neighbours talking to one another, which is a silver lining.

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