Super Typhoon Nepartak made landmark yesterday, battering Taiwan with winds exceeding 160 miles per hour. Throughout the mountainous terrain, there was devastation, flooding, and loss of life. And somewhere in the midst of this fearsome storm is a good friend, an American nun and high school classmate of my mother's.
In the aftermath of what the Weather Channel just called a “monster storm,” Sister Mary Paul (pictured above), with others of the Order of Our Lady of China, will be among those rendering aid, bringing emergency supplies, and binding wounds both physical and spiritual. But right now, as the storm bears down, they are as vulnerable as everyone else. For those of us watching from afar, it is a nail-biting time…but not without hope.
One of the hardest things we are called upon to do is watch a loved one face a potentially catastrophic personal situation. We want to jump in, provide safety, protect. But sometimes that isn’t possible because of distance, resources, or other impediments. Nervousness is natural at such times. So, too, is physical activity that can give vent to our worry: pacing, for example, or even shedding tears.
But I learned throughout the process of writing my book Don’t Panic!: How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough that we are connected to our loved ones by more than physical proximity. We can reach out, no matter where we are or what is happening. We can cover with safety and compassion those who might be suffering miles away. We can bring God’s comfort near or far.
Prayer, Connection, Application
How can we bring the peace of God to others?
We immediately transcend physical boundaries and open a powerful communication with God. We ask for calm and support for those in harm’s way. We trust that His hand will steady all, even if our own hands seem woefully idle.
Connecting with others
We multiply our own prayer in a limitless and community-building action that helps us focus on the very important things in life and drop by the wayside those concerns that distract us from true, lasting faith and friendship. (Thus, this blog post.)
Application of our faith in our own lives
We strengthen our resilience inside and out, and so we can be of greater service when the storm clouds move off and the flood waters recede.
These three things—prayer, connection, and application of faith—might still seem inadequate as we will surely soon have images of the devastation brought by Super Typhoon Nepartak. After all, they are not tangible actions in the modern, worldly sense of the word. But it really is not all that useful to think of being “worldly” or “modern” when a monster storm occurs.
More useful is to take the resources we have at hand and use these to the fullest extent possible. If that means we pray, let’s pray mightily. If that means we connect with others so that we can create a community of powerful prayer, let’s do that, too. And if that means we live out our faith with all our heart now so that we can bring that resilient heart to the aftermath of crisis, then, “Amen!”
I met Sister Mary Paul several years ago. She’s a shining example of someone who listened to God and answered His call to service. Her story and that of the Order of Our Lady of China is featured in my next book, Don’t Hold Back!: How to Be Who You Were Meant to Be (coming in spring 2017 from Franciscan Media). But as we see from this current crisis hitting Taiwanthings—or any crisis that we endure in our own livesthings—no one is assured safety from natural or man-made dangers. All the more reason why it’s important for us to move from our edgy nervousness, our worry and anxiety, and take the actions we can to bring our Spirit and faith to the people and places affected.
Image: Sister Mary Paul and Maureen Pratt. Photo provided by author.
As we learn how much damage Super Typhoon Nepartak causes, let’s keep together in prayer for healing, safety, and swift rebuilding for the people in the path of the storm. And let’s keep one another in prayer, too, for strength when we feel helpless and trust when we worry.