The Story of a Hurricane
Since I’ve arrived back home I’ve been hearing some chatter about the hurricane churning off the southerly part of the big island. My friend assures me that the reports of hurricanes here are frequent but rarely come to much. “You’ll see,” he said. This may be true, but the winds around the coasts here are definitely strong. And the surf seems a little more wild than usual at the beaches. Even if the story of the hurricane is more than what comes to be, the reality of what I see so far is just fine with me.
I am just back from Portland, Oregon. I was there to serve as the chaplain for the attendees of the annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Musician’s Network. This is like General Assembly for musicians. My days were spent mostly making sure the hearts and souls of those attending were cared for, but knowing Portland well, I also spent some time simply giving directions.
What I didn’t fully appreciate in my planning was at which of the many worship services of the weekend I would be speaking. I was given a theme to think about, but it wasn’t until I arrived at the conference that I realized I would be speaking during the service of remembrance for those who passed on the past few years. And that the service would be held in a place where I had performed some difficult and painful memorials. And just in case this wasn’t enough…there was the moment I didn’t see coming.
In the order of service I saw that the moment before I spoke would be used to list the names of those being remembered at the service. What I didn’t consider was that…these are musicians. So as those who planned to speak the names came to the microphones, as my friend sat at the piano, and as the background music started, I was taken by surprise when instead of reading the names, those speaking the names sang the names. Round and round, repeating the tender tonalities of a sacred remembering, the names swirled up and out of these gifted gentle singers, and seemed somehow to enter the chapel more free and unburdened than anyone could be in life. It was stunning.
Friends, we can hold something in our own two hands like an order of service and think we know what’s coming, but we don’t. We can hold our phones in our hands, and think we know when the storm is coming, but we don’t. We can take another’s hand in ours and think we know that person’s story, but we don’t. “You’ll see.” My friend’s promise about hurricane stories is really a promise about so much more, about so much we want to know. In the end, no matter how much guessing and hoping and wondering we may do, about hurricanes, about one another, about what dreams may come in the end, the only part of the story we know will be true is this: “we’ll see.”
And may it ever be so.
Rev. T. J.