Irene, a Good Barometer

Well, Irene came and went, and now we're picking up the pieces (for some of us, that is meant literally). My family made out pretty good in the grand scheme of things: basement's a little mustier than usual, and we lost power for minutes two nights ago, but otherwise no harm and no foul.

Because of their uncertain behavior and destructive potential, weather stuff like hurricanes and tornadoes is a pretty good barometer (sorry, pun intended) of where are hearts are, what we put our trust in, and (via social media) what we want people to know about where are hearts are and what we put our trust in. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook and Twitter, it's not hard to get a read on this. I could not help but sort people's reaction to Irene into one of the following categories:

* Prepared. Some chose to respond with mega-preparation, trusting in their ability to stock up and batten down.

* Informed. Some chose to read up on the meteorology, in order to anticipate Irene's path and consequences.

* Cynical. Some chose to accuse the media of drumming up a once-in-a-lifetime storm to boost ratings.

* Taunting. Some chose to dare Irene to give them her best shot.

* Worried. Some chose to air their concerns that their family members and properties were going to be in peril.

* Complaining. Some chose to air their frustrations about plans cancelled, travel modes rendered uncertain, and options limited.

* Dismissive. Some chose to reminisce about worser calamities they had survived.

Being an equal opportunity idolater, I harbored all such thoughts and then some during the before, during, and after of Irene. I wish I could say I ended up in a place of trusting God, but I'd have to say that sentiment was just one of many I cycled through during the whole ordeal.

Looking back, I hope that even if trusting God wasn't the dominant response I had, it will be the most lasting one. The image of God as both source of and salvation from such a mighty natural force is indeed a powerful one. Or, to use another metaphor as I did a few years back, God is sort of like the schoolyard bully you fear but then can trust on to protect you if he's on your side.

If indeed the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, as it says in the book of Proverbs, then I've got a lot of wisdom left ahead of me. Weather or not, here's hoping we all get some wisdom from which to respond more appropriately to life's next big challenges.

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