As soon as our Governor issued the evacuation order, I was on fire to leave. A hurricane was approaching our coast, and I set myself to securing the house and packing our bags, surprised by how little our material things actually mattered to me. We grabbed the baby blankets and burned rubber. As we made our way inland to stay with my in-laws, we had no idea all the lessons Nature had in store for us.
As we journeyed the 70 miles, close friends began texting and checking in, sharing in the camaraderie and fear of fleeing a powerful storm. We spent the next few days relaying good thoughts and prayers, feeling the immediacy and fragility of the moment. For me, it was the storm’s first lesson in human Nature, that basic drive we have to connect and be close in moments of crisis.
Even family and friends from afar began to check in, concerned that we were in the hurricane’s path. Their love and sincere concern were like blankets, a warm comfort in our time of uncertainty. Our in-laws greeted us (and our cat) with open arms, feeding us, doing our laundry, and allowing us to bring noise and chaos into their usually serene home.
Again, Nature chimed in with a sweet reminder that we are wired for love and connection.
As the storm began to roll in, neighbors checked on our house, just out of the kindness of their hearts. When the power flickered and triggered our garage door to open, one of our neighbors went over to manually close the door for us in the height of the storm. I was so touched by that.
Our neighborhood Facebook page gave real time updates on the storm’s progress, even streaming video of the winds and flooding. Neighbors banded together to watch out for looters taking advantage of those who had evacuated their homes. Everyone was looking out for their neighbors and their safety, and it was truly beautiful and heartwarming.
Even as Mother Nature blew wind and rain in all her fury, human Nature told a softer story of innate goodness, reminding us it is in the twisty strands of our DNA to band together and care for one another in times of need.
Ironically, the place where my family fled for refuge from the hurricane was hit harder than our home. (Nature has a sense of humor). The rain soaked the ground and the wind howled until the trees began to lean and finally fall like toothpicks. Seventy-year-old towering oaks fell in slow motion, their roots hanging on and taking the earth with them.
You could almost hear those lumbering trees accepting their fate as they fell to their deaths. Nature had called, and they heeded the call. Their majesty was nothing compared to Mother Nature’s fury.
Two of the massive oaks fell gracefully onto the roof of my in-law’s house, making the softest kerplunk as they hit. We stood at the window marveling at this freak-show sight, praying the house wouldn’t buckle under the trees’ weight. I gathered my children into an interior room. Six more trees fell in their yard, one by one.
We prayed for safety and waited for the winds to die down. There was nowhere to go. Downed trees were blocking the road; the storm was at its ugliest.
The weird thing was, we were all strangely calm, even jovial. We made inappropriate jokes about being crushed by huge oaks. There was a sense that we were not in control, that only a higher Force even greater than Nature could carry us through. We were at peace, and all that mattered was faith and family.
After the storm passed, we walked around the yard and surveyed the damage. It was like a war-zone apocalypse. I was in awe of Nature’s power.
Minutes later, a friend who had evacuated to the mountains (brilliant!) sent me a picture of the view from their mountain cabin. Hours away from our gray, war-zone apocalypse, it was crisp green trees, mountains looming flirtatiously in the background, and blue sky and clouds that took my breath away. Then, I was in awe of Nature’s beauty.
Now that I’m back home, I’m like a gratitude volcano. The storm created a little window into the mysteries of life and nature for me. We live in a mighty world, where hurricanes, natural disasters, and even disease befall us, but where the goodness of people and need for connection always rise up. And just beyond all the wonders and horrors of Nature, there is something even more grand, all-encompassing, and ever-present: Faith and Peace.