August 28, 2011

How He Loves

St. Elizabeth convent is one of our houses directly in the path of Hurricane Irene. Funny, the name Irene means peace, but the winds and rain that she brought were far from peaceful. Although we do not live close to the shore, there were some concerns about tree and wind damage as well as flooding in the creek that runs through the backyard. With only one veteran hurricane survivor in residence, we weathered the storm prepared for the worst, with plenty of flashlights, batteries, candles, bottled water, and ice cream. Evening came and morning followed with minimal damage. We had power throughout the storm, but the priests at the retirement home where we serve lost electricity and had a flooded basement. We rescued them early in the morning with extra batteries and more importantly, a pot of coffee. They, in turn, and most importantly, celebrated Mass for us.

This summer, one of the songs played throughout the Steubenville Mid-America Youth Conference was David Crowder Band’s “How He Loves.” After experiencing this hurricane (my first since Bertha in 1996), I was reminded of the line that speaks of the power of God’s love and mercy using the imagery of a hurricane.

He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me.

As you can see from the picture, Hurricane Irene took a toll on this tree in our backyard!

The Lord’s love is powerful! When we open ourselves to His love, it may seem scary at first, but once we surrender to His power, we are refined, we are made new, and we become who we are meant to be. What looks (and feels) like destruction gives way to beauty. The dead branches and weak trees are knocked down so that it can give way to new life. We are in constant need of the powerful mercy of God who desires our perfection.

In today’s Gospel, we heard Jesus begin to prepare his disciples for what was to come...his own passion and death. Peter gives the natural human response, to shy away from all that looks like utter destruction, but Jesus reminds him and all of us, that we also have to die in order to rise in Him.

In the days to come, those of us on the east coast will be cleaning up the destruction wrought by Irene. In addition to clearing branches in the backyard, I’ll be spending some time giving way to the hurricane of God’s love in my own life knowing that it might hurt and be messy at times, but by His grace, it always gives way to future glory.

- Sr. M. Karolyn, FSGM

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