Last month, I went on a camping trip to the coast with my daughter. It was glorious: the ocean does something to my soul which even the greatest of Great Lakes can’t match. There is a tug in that salt undertow which at once tempts a person to combine with the most profound elements of creation, and to fight against her assimilation, to try earnestly to stand against the surf and stay alive. I love the sea.
On our last night there, a storm rolled in. Rolled, as in went through the motions of a steamroller.
Never mind the rain, which, inspired by the sea, fell like a crashing wave, sweeping out the ground from under its newborn rivers, running back, like the undertow, to the shore.
Never mind the thunder and lightning, which got seriously overexcited and insisted on dancing a reel around and around and around us for hours, dropping its flash-bombs and rumbling with laughter, pinning us inside its circle for as long as it pleased. So rude; so boorish.
No, what really had me worried was the wind. It was the wind that picked up tables and chairs, shelters no longer worthy of the name, and threw them angrily against building walls. It was the wind that bellied up against our tent, flattening us to the floor, aggressive and unrelenting.
I began to pray. It seemed unlikely that you would walk out across the waterlogged campsite speaking, “Peace. Be still.” I prayed for smaller miracles: that our tent would survive. That we would survive. That the tree would not fall. That you would not let me let my daughter down.
That was the crux of it. Isn’t it always?
My fear is less of the elements, because what can I do against them, and who am I to them? My fear is of my own decisions, whether they are wise, and good, and capable; whether they will save my daughters and son, or lead them into danger. That is where your guidance would come in handy.
And now, on a clear day, far from the coast and its healing saltwater salve, I hear men speak storms of fire and fury, and once again I pray, from the small, dark space in which my heart has pitched its tent. I pray that you will inspire most of us to wise choices, to lead our feet into the way of peace. I pray that you will provoke in many of us the courage that comes from faith, and the obstinacy that accompanies love, to resist evil. I pray that you will not let me let our children down.