Hurricane Matthew is, as I write, moving at 130 mph thirty miles off the coast of Florida, about 50 miles from where I live. I awoke this morning surprised to find electricity, despite the wind and heavy rain, having expected to spend the day in hibernation, hunkered down with only the basics.
For days, fearful Floridians have been storing up food and water and checking with each other about roads, worrying about trees being uprooted and crashing into our roofs, as they did 12 years ago when three major storms hit us in central Florida. Will we escape all such discomfort this time? If so, our neighbors to the north will not.
Major storms remind us of our solidarity with others.
I read today a piece by Richard Rohr on simplicity: A simple lifestyle, e says, is "an act of solidarity with the way most people have lived since the beginnings of humanity." This is a helpful reminder that the constant acquisition of goods and luxury comforts, including air conditioning, are not the norm and that living under a hurricane warning can have spiritual value: it can remind us of the power of solitude and silence.
It can provide time for prayer, for simple games and crosswords, for reading perhaps by flashlight, and just being: chatting with neighbors, comforting our pets and elderly friends. I sort of looked forward to a day when I would be forced to give up our dependence on the internet and the other media, on cooked food and iced drinks and all the other things we take for granted.
So far, I am grateful to be spared the worst. I also welcome the freedom that can come from a life limited by nature to the basics. If tonight brings a power outage, I will be ready.
(For Richard Rohr's daily meditations, see email@example.com.)