Gratitude in the midst of an ice storm: Fallen trees, friends, and the storms of life

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Tree falling on a friend's house

courtesy of Carly Baker Chapman

Tree falling on a friend's house

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And here, in this awesomely beautiful and frightening ice storm, there is also beauty: friends reaching out to friends. There is something about storms of life that strip us to our core, literally to our heart. And what a joy to discover that there, in the mist of the storm, people are good and beautiful, that our primal instinct is to connect our lives, to reach out in love and service.

  • David

    The problem of beauty gets less attention then the problem of evil – unfairly, I think.

    I appreciated your reflection on the difficulties of thanking God for things. In Islam the idea that all actions are authored by God is quite strong (I’d even go so far as to label it the default position, if I may) and I suppose the reason thanks for good is not matched by blame for bad comes from the idea that we “deserve” no good treatment from God, and every event that turns out better then the absolute worst case is due to his magnanimity. So if the tree HAD fallen on your house, you could thank God your family was safe. If it had fallen and you had broken an arm, you could be thankful no one died. Etc.

    Of course, the problem with this is that gratitude and happiness in a storm is not exactly tied to realizing what is important in life (as opposed to possessions, job, status, and so on), but rather tied to the fact that we have very low expectations at the time, we are just concerned with keeping safe, and it is easy to see if that is being realized or not. The reason we forget after the storm is because, with the storm over, we can dream again. We can expect more then just Avoiding the worst-case. This is a difficult thing, yes, but it’s also a great thing. Man does not live on bread (or even coffee) alone. Let’s not live like we are always under a storm. Let’s not be always satisfied with “thank God it’s not worse.” Gratitude should not be an excuse for complacency or fatalism.