“I don’t like the weather in the Philippines,” a foreign student of mine blurted out one day. When I asked why, she replied, “It’s scorching hot in the morning, becomes windy at noon, and rains like mad in the afternoon.”
I could only nod in reply. We only have two seasons in the Philippines, dry and wet, and yet, we’ve had too much of both in recent years.
Weather reports of floods in some parts of India last week reminded me of the many times we also experienced the wrath of nature. Most recent was typhoon Yolanda (International name Haiyan) last year which ravaged many parts of the country. The damage to both life and property were so bad it made it to CNN news.
|Photo credit: newsinfo.inquirer.net|
Today, we are bracing for another storm. Though it doesn’t look as bad as Yolanda last year, I’ve already seen some facebook posts reminding everyone to stay safe and pray that the storm path changes so that we may be spared of its angry fury.
I have no qualms with prayer. But to pray for the storm path to change does not seem right to me. What happens if our prayers are heeded, where will the storm go then - to another town, another city, another country? Is it right to pray for one’s safety at the cost of another’s?
As I watch the rain pour endlessly from my window, I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, that the place where I live has never been flooded despite the many strong typhoons our country has faced, and that I have never lacked food or warm shelter during these moments of great unpredictability. Does that have anything to do with my position on praying for a miracle in times like these? Perhaps, but I also think that the more we try to avoid something, the harder it becomes for us to resolve it.
I remember the many conversations I had with a student before who complained about everything that happened to her. On one of our last conversations before she graduated, I asked her, “Don’t you see a pattern in everything that’s happening to you?” Surprised, she looked at me and said, “That’s exactly what I thought! I feel like a mouse trapped in a maze and I can’t seem to find the way out.” It didn’t take very long after that for her to realize that skirting her issues was the actual problem, and that by avoiding these issues, she never learned the lesson that would help her resolve them.
Things happen, sometimes, for a reason; other times, for no reason at all. But whatever the case, they happen to tell us something.
Storms are no different, I feel, whether they are the forces of nature that ruin our homes or the unfortunate events we experience in life. In both cases, I don’t think it is right to pray for the events to change. That only helps us avoid it. What happens when the next storm comes? Do we pray again that it changes course? And do we keep doing the same thing for the next storm and the storm after that?
I pray because I have faith. But this faith does not fool me into thinking that I can control what happens to me, or that I can get rid of that cancer that ails my sister, or that I can prevent the death of a friend, or that I can stop the storm from putting so many lives in danger.
No. My prayer rather is that I may have the strength to endure what happens and the courage to live it through.
A priest friend of my husband says it well...“The Spirit doesn’t change life or make everything in it a source of happiness. Rather, the Spirit enables us to see beyond the present sorrow or pain or disturbance and to anticipate the peace and the joy that await us beyond.”
Rainbows, people say, come after the rain. Surely there’s one that awaits us after this...