There used to be four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. But since the introduction of Doppler radar and other sophisticated ways of monitoring weather conditions, you could say the hurricane season has been added as a fifth season. I’ve recognized that because I’ve lived on the Gulf Coast.
People living in other locations might recognize the fifth season as the tornado or wildfire season. During these times people expect trouble. Many live with premonitions of inevitable storm surges, high winds, hail, flooding, or drought.
With the opening of the hurricane season, the public is inundated with information. We are warned that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparedness are common. We are well cautioned, and I’m grateful for that, but these forecasts can also promote fear. In dealing with temptations to be overtaken by fear myself, I find comfort in remembering what Jesus did in similar circumstances.
One time when Jesus and his disciples were at sea, a violent storm came up. The disciples were in a panic, but Jesus was peacefully resting, asleep. According to Mark’s Gospel (New King James Version), when they awakened him they said, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” But Jesus had spiritual vision that enabled him to rebuke the wind and say, “Peace, be still!” The storm was immediately stilled, and “there was a great calm.”
What Jesus brought to the situation was his spiritual apprehension and the power of God’s word. He admonished the disciples about their fear and asked them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
Was this question too demanding? Jesus must not have thought so. He had already taught his disciples the power of thought. “With the same measure you use,” he told them, “it will be measured to you” (Mark 4:24, NKJV). I’ve taken this to mean that in the measure that I know and accept the spiritual laws of God, in that proportion do I bring them into my experience. Perhaps the disciples’ fear showed Jesus they were still believing in a physical force, a force other than God that could govern their experience.
If a storm does materialize, we can follow Jesus’ lead. We can let go of worry and fear, and maintain our sense of peace right in the eye of the storm, having faith in God’s omnipotent law of harmony as more than enough to help us.
Speaking about how thought affects experience, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 261). Christian Science explains that because Jesus felt the peace of God inside, he was able to connect with God’s law of harmony and calm the storm going on outside.
After hurricane Lili came through Crowley, La., where we lived in 2002, the weather bureau reported that we’d been directly in Lili’s path. They said that Crowley, replete with large historic homes and old live oak trees, had been hit especially hard – but not half as hard as expected.
Those in charge of safety had taken no chances, though. Early on, evacuation orders went out to 900,000 people. Lili was expected to be a life-threatening hurricane with winds of 140 m.p.h. But something unexpected happened to calm the storm right before landfall, and there were few injuries and no deaths.
Weather experts could explain how cold water undercurrents caused atmospheric changes that resulted in weakening of the wind and waves. But they couldn’t explain how all these changes came together so suddenly, stilling the storm enough to spare us from devastation.
So when a hurricane (or severe storm, fire, or flood) is imminent, and we pray about it, what is that prayer? Are we calling on God to change a physical condition? Jesus didn’t. We don’t need to let matter make conditions for us. Prayer restores God’s primal order of harmony.
To me, prayers were answered in Crowley. It wasn’t that God was successfully recruited by prayer petitions so that He got into a battle for power with hurricane Lili and partially won. No. I believe that prayer lifted people’s thought to the peace of the God-consciousness, and that this atmosphere of thought resulted in calmer atmospheric conditions.