Heavy winds pounded my home last night, and its cedar frame rocked like a ship on rough seas as wood outside and inside crackled and the great River Wye roared her power.
As I listened in the darkest of darkness, I heard the sounds of ordered chaos, of the exultant triumph of nature in these reminders of her ultimate planetary authority, and I heard warnings about more disorder to come. I thought with concern about the baby swallows in the garage still waiting to fledge and of the young house martins in their nests under the eaves: would their parents abandon them with the change in the weather, and if not, would they be strong enough to fend for themselves on their long journey south?
As an early autumn storm blew around me, I thought much about the ruthless storms and hurricanes punishing the Caribbean and Americas at the same time. The winds and high waters here were a mere gentle imitation of the ferocity of Irma, a reminder not to be complacent, to count my blessings, and to pray and pray again again for the suffering of people and wildlife affected by the turbulence that is so prevalent everywhere. They can do little more but endure and try to survive: the challenge for we observers who are more fortunate is to help in whatever way we can – practically and spiritually. We are on Earth to learn and to love.
The winds had dropped a little when I arose, but the early morning light showed sullen skies and a restless landscape, the promise of gales and rain to come for several days. The birds….? I watched as the parent swallows flew out to look for food in hard conditions, returned, and re-emerged followed, thankfully, by four fledglings who crashed onto the roof in a heap together before fluttering about on their new wings. They were very, very young, almost too young to leave the nest, but their parents knew it was time for them all to prepare to leave. Simultaneously the last of the house martins fledged too, and as I write the young are making their first flight outside my office window. Last night nature issued a warning, and it was heeded.
The power of nature is proving itself extraordinarily, and there is wonder as well as fear about the forces assaulting the world from beneath and above the land, invoking all the elements of Air, Earth, Fire and Water, and, indeed, Spirit. It is a perfect, long storm that will rage for weeks and longer. More is to come, I believe, and each of us will be given our own reminder of the supremacy of the planet and of our relationship with her and duty to her. We have a duty to our human community too, and it helps to remember, as we watch and pray, that “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.