Stormy Weather

stormy ocean

I am lucky enough right this minute to be sitting by a large window looking out to a very stormy sea. You may have read about the series of big storms hitting the Santa Barbara area of California, and that’s where I am, on my yearly retreat with a women’s group I’ve known for 30 years.

We’ve had to rush out of the house every time the rain clears for a quick walk before diving back into the warmth of the fire. Not what we had planned. But does this qualify as BAD weather?

This group of women ranges from mid-50’s to almost 70, and we’ve seen some stormy times. Eight lives, eight stories, eight sets of weather that could make the hardiest person shiver. Three bouts of cancer in the group. Four divorces. One death of a child. Traumas with all the children who lived. Many tests of faith. And yet, as we listen to each other, we wonder: were these storms in our lives BAD?

Not one of us relishes or courts drama, and not one would wish suffering on another. But each time a roaring wind has struck us it has dragged gifts along with it. The learning and growth in this group is stunning. Maybe stormy weather isn’t bad, but just stormy.

The wind sweeps long rooster tails from the crest of each grey and white wave. Mud swirls at the shoreline, where a creek is depositing debris from the mountains. Gulls venture out to scout for surprises, new life deposited on the shore, fuel for whatever weather comes next. And I sit in comfort, just watching the drama, the wonder, the life force.

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