Stormy seas

Love has a wonder, strength and storminess all its own. Doubts and fears are juxtaposed with exhiliration , enchantment and fantasies. Beyond that, love has roots and stature, gentleness and understanding; in its purest form, love is unconditional, not predicated on gratification or self-fulfillment. Unconditional love dances with the divine and manifests itself in the ordinary. It is sourced in the mystical presence of God. And the Scripture passages for this week open that promise to scrutiny.

In the first reading, Job is caught in the storm, and the Lord lays that fury to rest. But there is the second story, in the Gospel of Mark, and it is Jesus this time who slays the storm.

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

In both passages, and in the Responsorial Psalm, there is relief and gratitude in the resolution of the storms. Each is a demonstration of the wild circumstances that engulf human lives everyday. Each is a testimpny that to lay down the anxiety and step away from the fears that are so much a part of human experience is possible. Both passages intimate the profound sense of transition that occurs as storms develop and disappear. Powerful and pounding, they are temporary. But there is permanence in the immutable, in the divine. And in both cases, that bond of protection is firm in the reality of unconditional love and acceptance.

Our world, our lives, are not a judgement-free zones. There are wildly impossible expectations that we hold ourselves and others to, standards that represent the ideals and tangle relentlessly with the real. But these passages suggest the frailty of our humanity is recognizable, and understood, forgiven and cared for. The God who loves us gives gentle supports in the lives and love of family and friends, partners and strangers. There are tools to be reached for, moments to be shared, revelations to be had and insights to be gained from the very process of living. In a sense, it is all about the perception, the interpretation of what is happening as the storms about us rage. The truth is that we are never really alone. In the throes of transition or the hurricanes of hubris, tsunamis of sorrow, there is acquital granted by this unconditional love. And here, while we exist within broader systems and rules, the single most important thing is this remarkable relationship of unconditional love. It enables all the rest to make sense.

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