Storm and Calm Lessons

There are some things you learn best in calm,

and some in storm.

Willa Cather

[Daily Peace, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2015, March 17]

When the chips are down, will this person be there? My parents believed the answer to this question divided trustworthy partners from untrustworthy ones, real friends from the merely friendly. They didn’t think the answer could be found in a person’s wealth, talent, personality, or good looks. Only a storm could strip the surface appearance away to reveal the true nature underneath. This is as true for self as well as other: when the chips are down, will I be there? Knowledge of self and the other that is gained in the answering can be painful, and it cannot be unlearned – storm damage.

But not everything is best learned or revealed in storm. Calm, peace, and order provide a safe structure to grow in, and they foster flexibility and strength of spirit. It’s when the storm blows by that I can learn whether the person who wasn’t there when the wind was whipping around is not a true friend or a true friend who just made a mistake. And if I happen to be the one who ran away at the first sign of the storm, whether I’m a true friend or not is also a lesson best studied in calm.

I hope what I do with the answers to such questions has something to do with love of God, self, and neighbor. Otherwise, what’s the point of asking?

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