Mission + Ministry: Preparing for Storms

As a native New Orleanian, I am familiar with the annual ritual of preparing for hurricane season as June 1 draws near each year.  I check my battery supply, generator, gas tank level, candles and flash lights to make sure my power and light sources are there.  I make sure to have extra canned food, ice and water available.  In case of an evacuation, I review my escape route and endear myself to family and friends that live in interesting places to visit.  I brush up on the advice of trusted experts – the contemporary version of long-time local meteorologist Nash Roberts, and also track wherever the Weather Channel sends Jim Cantore, because that is most likely where the storm will be the worst.  Finally, I start praying in earnest to Our Lady of Prompt Succor.

So, here I am now, almost a month into the 2017-18 hurricane season and feel rather confident about my preparation for any possible atmospheric storms.  However, during these last few months especially, I have become aware that perhaps I am not as well prepared for the other storms in life that are not as well forecast- particularly the occasional storms I face in mind and spirit.

The weather has been rather turbulent in my mind and spirit lately from all that is happening at Loyola as we try to secure our enrollment and financial future; as New Orleans continues to face its history of racism and on-going violence; as Louisiana fights to fund education and the effects of our eroding coastland; as the nation pits itself red against blue while searching for its prophetic role in the world; as nations yearn for peace while facing radicalized terror.  Yes, many days I feel category five strength winds in my head and heart.  How do I hope to prepare for these storms as I do so dutifully for hurricanes? 

First, I check my power and light sources.  Prayer is difficult and unfocused during turbulent times, so I need the energy and fortitude to persevere, to trust, and to remember God is still there.  If ever I doubt God’s light in my life and in the world, I look to find God’s light in the loved and at times not-so-loved ones God sends my way daily as a reminder of God’s unfailing presence to both challenge and reassure me.

Second, I’ve got to remember to be well-stocked with the necessities of daily life when burning the candle at both ends.  I can better face the storms when I am eating properly, staying hydrated in this Louisiana heat, making the best use of scarce time to work smarter, not harder, and remembering that rest and relaxation are important too.  This is the ideal.  Most days, however, I run around “hangry” from skipping a meal and forget the importance of Sabbath time in my schedule.      

Three, I reconsider the path and direction I am on.  It is easy to fall into the habit of complaining, pointing a blaming finger at others, or losing myself in a tempest of despair.  At these times I must remember my escape route- to join in the contra-flow of positivity and hope; to be a voice for good instead of a chorus of pessimism.    

Four, I brush up on the advice of trusted experts- St. Ignatius and his rules for discernment; Christ’s message in the Gospels and in daily prayer; the example of coworkers and friends who also weather the storm; those above my pay grade whom I must trust see a bigger picture than I do; and the playful voices of my nieces and nephews who challenge me to have fun and be silly.

Five, I pray to Our Lady of Prompt Succor that she may intercede on my behalf for her Son to calm the winds and raging seas around and within me.  Yes, dear God, hasten to help me both when the radar is clear and when storms approach.

 - Kurt Bindewald, Director of University Ministry and Associate Director of Mission + Ministry

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