Larry Rosenberg, speak. But, Mother Nature had other plans which would be the antithesis of a quiet meditation….
I started out preparing a blog post. I washed and ironed Aunty’s clothes, worked on an upcoming project, and did a little cleaning and organizing, like I promised myself I would. Then I walked into town for some errands. About 3:30, while I was out Gracie called me on my cell phone to say, she didn’t think she would be able to come and sit with aunty due to the “tornado watch.” I had no idea what she was talking about. We agreed to talk a little later. About 4:30, on my way back home, a friend rang my cell phone warning me not to go out because of a bad storm coming our way. Suddenly the sky appeared dark, and there was an ominous feeling in the air. Gracie called back to cancel. I knew this meant no meditation or dharma talk, so I decided that as soon as I got home I would do my own meditation before Aunty arrived back from her day program.
As I approached my house my downstairs neighbor was at the door waiting for me. She told me,
“There’s a tornado watch. I am thinking of going down to the basement!” She added, “Do you have any kind of helmet?” The sky turned black. I ran upstairs and turned off my computer. I closed all the windows, drew all the shades and unplugged appliances. When I turned on the TV it showed a tornado hitting the Springfield Massachusetts area (which is less than an hour away). Suddenly on the television screen I saw something I had never seen before; a tornado warning for my town. My neighbor ran up the stairs and said, “I have my transistor radio all set up and I think we should go into the basement.” What made this all the more frightening were the sirens going off from her Weather Channel station as the tornado watch became a tornado warning.
My neighbor and I were prepared to take cover in the basement if the tornado got closer. From her television set we could see the damage the tornado was doing as it headed closer to us. And from her new I-pad we could track the storm like professional meteorologists.
I did not want to go down to the basement without Aunty, and she was not home yet. I paced the floor, and peeked out the window. Miraculously I remained calm and did my deep breathing. After all, I was supposed to be meditating.
At 6:10, minutes after Aunty arrived, the anchorman announced that the tornado was south of us. But, there could be another one coming. It was confusing at times because there seemed to be conflicting, and delayed reports. Things were also happening very quickly.
Aunty and I went back to our place and continued watching the news stations. It was horrible. In western and central Massachusetts, four people died and many lost their homes, their cars, and much damage was done. The governor declared a state of emergency. I just couldn’t believe this was happening in Massachusetts.
Lucky for us we did not get hit with a tornado, but, we experienced severe thunder and lightning like I have never seen. I decided to go out front and take a picture, but at that exact moment the newscaster said, “Do not go outside. This is not your average thunder storm.” The lightning (hotter than the surface of the sun) was striking 45 times a minute! It was unreal. At about nine o’clock, the thunder was so loud the sound of one bolt actually jolted me. Aunty woke up. She was terrified! She kept asking… “What’s wrong? With each thunderous bang she said, “This is awful.” I held her hand and rubbed her back. Eventually the storm passed, Aunty went back to bed, and we were back to normal.
One of the things I learned from this experience is how much people care. We got several phone calls from concerned friends wanting to make sure we were okay. Those in the midst of the storm comforted and helped one another, many sheltered strangers. I realized that Mother Nature is the strongest force on earth. If you have even the slightest experience with any kind of flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or landslide, you know exactly what I am talking about. I will certainly keep doing all I can to stay on her good side. She’s indomitable!
I also learned that as long as I don’t move from where I am living now, I should be able to survive anything. My neighbor is a true boy scout. She is prepared for everything. She’s also got the Weather Channel, an I-Pad, I-phone, transistor radio, two bike helmets, and a crate of canned food. As a savvy world traveler, she has experience with every kind of weather change and knows how to handle unpredictable situations.
And, the most important thing I learned from yesterday’s natural disaster so close to home, is the power of meditation. If you have a meditation practice under your belt you may not be able to avoid a natural disaster, but, you have a much better chance of surviving one if you are calm and aware. Meditation puts you in harmony with the universe, yourself, and the world. It's the opposite of any natural disaster.