I was traveling across New York State this past weekend. There was a stalled weather front full of storms. Rain, hail, lightening and wind intermittently filled the sky. I started out in Rochester, the weather pattern had shifted overnight and I woke to a clear cool summer morning. I thought my road trip would be a breeze. How easily we forget the storms.
At some point, driving alone, I looked ahead and saw the dark clouds forming, felt the car shift in the force of winds and thought, what do I do? Well, keep driving of course. Maybe I’ll avoid the storm or skirt around it. Maybe it will pass by, won’t be so bad. Then the rain came and then the hail. The wind swirled and in the well-remembered words from the movie Twister, we had debris! Branches were flying and cars had slowed to a crawl. At one point I could not see the lights of the cars in front of me nor the cars in my rear view mirror and I realized that my windshield wipers didn’t go any faster. Afraid to stop and be hit from behind, I remembered the quiet voice of my driving instructor, 30 years ago, “you can always navigate, if you can see the white line on the side of the road.” Sure enough there it was, the constant solid white line, my guide out of this hellacious storm.
I rode the entire day along this stormy front, passing it, having it catch up with me. It became a dance really, the kind you’d prefer to sit out. But alone in the car, I remembered the various storms in my life that I have danced with. The ones that annoyed me and the ones that brought me to my knees. I thought of the storms I created, the ones I wanted desperately to avoid and also those that come to all of us.
I wondered if I had a solid white line during those storms. Did I have a guide? Unitarians often don’t have a guide in the traditional sense. I’ve always liked the idea that Jesus was by my side, but I don’t really believe that. If Jesus is a God, he has much better things to do in this world than attend to my life. So where is my sense of coherence in this world, why do I believe that I will get through the storms? How is it that I trust there will always be a “white line” for me, because I do believe that?
I remembered finding a quote early in my 20’s when it seemed storms surrounded me. I remember the revelation of thinking, “That’s it! I understand now”. I posted these lines on the wall of my first apartments, carefully moving it from place to place. The quote stays with me even today.
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~Albert Camus
So perhaps these words are my “white line” my guide through the storm, the words of humankind who tackle the storms and find the way out; the words of wiser souls who know enough not to try to outrun them. Here are just a few others, see if they fit for you or if not, go searching for your own “white lines”.
Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them? ~Rose F. Kennedy
And from our own Unitarian Universalist elder
We acquire the strength we have overcome. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson