When I was a child growing up on a farm in Northern Ontario, black clouds on the horizon stirred a certain excitement in me. I tingled with anticipation of what was to come.
Everything came alive in a thunderstorm. The sky flashed with explosive lightning. The farmhouse shook with each rumble of thunder. Torrential rain pounded on the roof, drumming up a rhythm that sent shivers up and down my spine. The trees swayed wildly in heavy gusts of wind, so vulnerable and at the mercy of the storm, that I feared they would snap in two.
As I grew older I continued to enjoy those thunderstorms and came to appreciate that stillness before the storm where the dark clouds hung heavy in the distance, offering the perfect backdrop for a dazzling lightning bolt. The world grew still. Waiting. The birds listened. The wind paused, leaving the trees poised in preparation for the dance.
Upon the storm’s arrival, that stillness surrendered and the world exploded with a magical display of unrehearsed expression. Then, silence. Golden silence. It was that golden silence that spoke of having surrendered to something greater than yourself.
I used to imagine that this was the same as feeling safe in the “eye of the storm”. But, the eye of the storm is more accurately described as the area of calm winds and clear sky that hold the space at the centre of a hurricane or tropical storm.
Realistically, it is a place suspended in time and space, caught between the past and in anticipation of the future, surrounded by stormy walls. It is the illusion of being in a safe place. But, to leave that supposedly safe place you must weather the storm and break through the boundaries.
I have spent my life building a safe place for myself. That old farmhouse, built from stone, definitely felt like a safe place to a little girl. It stood on 300 acres of land, surrounded by forest, fully secluded from the world.
We basked in the summer heat, harvesting hay and tending the gardens, and we froze in sub-zero temperatures, trudging through 4-foot high snowdrifts to do chores in the barn. Some nights it got so cold that the butter hardened on the kitchen table and the water in toilet bowl grew a thin layer of ice. Grandma would rise at 5 am to light the fire in the fireplace and the kitchen was toasty warm by the time we awoke. It was a place of magical moments and acceptance of the outer world; thunderstorms and all.
When my family moved to the city, for the first week I hardly came out of my room. As a very sensitive young girl and afraid of the world, I built imaginary walls around myself for protection. I built those walls as strong as the stone walls of the farmhouse that I remembered so well. I had my safe place; safe but uncomfortable. I knew subconsiously that I was surrounded by an outer world that wasn’t always a calm and sunny place.
In hindsight, I believe much of the discomfort came from denying my spirit the adventure and excitement of life. To always stay in that safe place meant constantly watching and anticipating that dark cloud in the distance. Never experiencing that magical energy of the storm and that feeling of peaceful stillness that follows.
It’s the space between the moments of life that soothe and nurture the spirit. But to experience the spaces, you have to live the moments. Then and only then will silence be golden, and will you have found the true Eye of the Storm.
© 2008 Davina Haisell