When Disaster Strikes Compassion Comforts

And a voice cried from heaven… “It is done.”

It probably isn’t accurate but this quote from the Bible came back to me as I climbed into bed on the night that Mother Nature took on New York. There is nothing like the hand of nature to stop us in our tracks and there is nothing we can do when Mother Nature speaks.

So I did what I could. I spared a thought and sent out a prayer for all those 60 million people who were projected to be directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy as I reflected on how nature always triumphs over technology. And electrical power. And political power.

Isn’t it ironic that Mother Nature had her say at a time when the election season in America was drawing to a close without any serious discussion about climate change? Two presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, and yet the climate spoke to them—and to everyone else around the world that is awake and listening.

Instead of continuing with their campaigns the political powers were forced to listen and react with the naturally occurring healing element of compassion for those caught up in the wrath of the storm. In the city that never sleeps schools were closed, businesses shuttered and mass transit suspended. Residents were told to hunker down and emergency responders where getting prepared to offer evacuees a safe place, a warm meal and emotional support. What else do you need when disaster strikes? What else do you need at any time in our lives when we are in trouble, fearful and anxious? Yet we spend so much time ‘needing’ other things that can be wiped out so quickly by a power much greater than ourselves.
In the past few years we’ve seen a number of natural disasters that leaves us without those things that we are too connected to, too plugged in, too fanatical, too dependent on. Is there an opportunity here to heighten our awareness of what really matters, to bridge and tunnel our way back to a deeper connection with each other and develop an understanding of what power really is?

At the time of writing this piece, the full extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy had not been fully totted up but with that we are presented with an opportunity not only for the healing of others, but perhaps, surprisingly, for ourselves too. When disaster strikes compassion comforts. It is a time to come together and put it into action. The collective effort, the ‘we’re-all-in-this-together spirit,’ triumphs in the face of disaster, but it shouldn’t take a natural disaster to make us tap into our natural humanity.

When trouble knocks on your neighbour’s door, when a friend is in need it offers us an opportunity to reach out and support each other. Not only will our support help those who need it, it will also help keep ours spirit intact as we practice spiritual values that comes from the same power that causes Mother Nature to speak.

The act of compassion can fill us all up with hope at times when life and nature is full of uncertainty. Compassionate action has the power to makes us feel connected to something greater than ourselves and can ultimately gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives which reminds me of another quote, this time from The Dalai Lama, “It’s not enough to be compassionate, you must act.”

© Aileen McGee

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