I’m sure each one of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news reports about 9-11. I remember being glued to the TV watching the footage, trying to comprehend the enormity of it all. I remember news people trying to explain it, while others couldn’t find the words. The pictures were devastating and drove many to their knees.
Through it all, the Mayor of New York at that time, Rudy Giuliani, did his best to calm people. He did his best to reassure people. He worked to comfort people. And while I can’t remember the exact words David Letterman used, I remember him weeping on camera and praising Giuliani for all he did for the people of New York. It still rings in my heart and memory.
Similarly, I remember where I was and what I was doing when as a fourth grader in 1963, Sister Lisetta came over the announcements and told us that President John Kennedy had been assassinated. I didn’t understand it at the time, the enormity of it at the time, but I knew instinctively that something of significance had happened. I heard it in her voice. I saw the reaction of my teacher. I went home and found my mom crying. I watched the TV news when Walter Cronkite paused, wiped his eyes, and cleared his throat before he continued with the news.
This morning I read one of my favorite passages about the frightened fishermen in a boat on a very stormy sea. The point of the passage was that because of a plea, the storm was rebuked, the waves calmed, and the sea was settled. One of the men in the boat remarked, “What sort of Man is this, who can calm the sea?”
Got me thinking . . .
Not so much about the storm or the sea or the fishermen. But more so about the question, “What sort of Man is this, who can calm the sea?”
What I think the fishermen meant was, “How did this Man calm the storm?” and then I thought of how many times we’ve come across people in our own lives who help calm our own storms, and who are willing to help calm the storms others find themselves in.
What kind of person is it who can calm a storm?
I think back to Letterman’s feelings about Giuliani, my own feelings about Cronkite. But there are so many others who have walked into, and sometimes left, my life who played a significant role in being the Calmer Of The Storm.
As I said, each of us can, hopefully, point to one such person who has played that role for us.
An even more important question is, “Am I . . . Are We . . . the Calmer Of The Storm? Or, are we the Creator Of The Storm?”
Do we do our best to calm the waters, still the churning seas in others, or do we create more waves, more wind and more fury in others?
It’s sometimes easier and quicker to be the Creator Of The Storm. It’s pretty easy to agitate, to cast doubt, to repeat a rumor, to pick at, to detract, and to be cynical and angry and negligent. It’s a lot harder to be comforting, to be sensitive, to spend the time listening, sometimes holding someone in distress. It’s sometimes harder to find the right words to say to help calm the nerves and soul of someone in distress. It’s sometimes a fight with our impatient selves to spend the time someone else needs from us when we’d rather spend it on ourselves or on less uncomfortable pursuits.