There’s a Peaceful Place Inside
By Don Staheli

I’m sure my parents received the announcement of an impending hurricane with little enthusiasm, but for me, a boy of eleven, it was tremendously exciting. The menacing storm had crawled along just off the eastern coast of the United States as far north from its South Atlantic spawning ground as New Jersey and was turning onto the land. Now the hurricane was headed directly for our small town of Toms River.

It was summer, so no school, and I just stayed around home waiting for the storm to hit. The sky was overcast. The feeling of anticipation was electric. Preparations of window taping, battery changing, and water storing made it all the more dramatic.

Then the wind began to blow – just a breeze at first, but soon a mighty howling that drove the raindrops like bullets and took up anything not tied down.

I stationed myself out on the big screened porch attached to our house and watched, just out of the rain, as the forces of nature unraveled. A garbage can clanged down the street like a tin can pulled behind some newlywed’s jalopy. Lightning, thunder, broken tree limbs, and flying debris crashed all around. Wow, what a great storm!

After a while the wind seemed to die down rather suddenly. There were a few breaks in the clouds. The patches of blue sky, the birds singing, and the now-soft breeze almost made me forget about the natural disaster that only minutes ago had been ravaging our neighborhood. It was peaceful and beautiful, a calm beyond calm. It was the eye of the hurricane.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the pace would pick up again before we were through with this windy, rainy struggle, and, sure enough, the full force of the hurricane was back upon us in short order. Round one, a bit of a breather, and now round two. Thank goodness there was no knock-out punch. Actually, I enjoyed the whole thing, from start to finish, but I think the town felt a little beat up by the time the storm finally passed for good.

Sometimes my life is a lot like that storm. The winds of stress and pressure blow hard. Work, family, and other responsibilities send all kinds of things clanging across my path. I encounter great challenges to my intellectual preparation, emotional stability, and physical resistance. Life can be a lot of fun, but I do sometimes feel a little beat up.

How nice it is to realize that there is for each of us a place where the blue sky shines through, the birds sing, and the soft breezes blow. There’s a quiet place deep down inside of us, away from the storm. Here we can find a brief reprieve from the daily disaster. All we have to do is learn to go there from time to time, and we can enjoy a refreshing calm that will strengthen us against the onslaught that, just like the other half of the hurricane, surely must descend upon us.

A quiet place, a quiet mind, a comfortable chair, and a pleasant thought. Hold that thought. If it escapes, quietly bring it back. It will stay a little longer this time. A bit of practice and you can go to the eye of your personal hurricane whenever you need to. Just knowing it’s there can often be comfort enough.

Even in the roughest weather, a calm center awaits with rest and comfort – our brief retreat.

2006 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.