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Turbulence: tranquility through the storms

Turbulence in flight, and in life, often leaves us nauseous. And yet beyond that turbulence, there is a calm. There is serenity. Can we access it?

Flight through clouds
Flight through clouds

Flight through clouds

Because of my work, I get to fly a lot.  Have to fly a lot.   Sometime ago I wrote a reflection about the meaning of airports.   Today was a bit different.   It was a different realization, about the flight itself.

I was flying out, and the weather was quite awful.  Windy, rainy, cloudy. I know it would be a bumpy ride, because driving to the airport the wind was so severe that cars had a hard time staying in their lane.    Bumpy on the road, bumpy in the air.

I hate flying in these kinds of conditions, especially in smaller planes.  The ride is bumpy, turbulent.   I don’t do turbulence well.   When I was a kid I was fearless of bumps.    Swings, rides, boats, planes, all of it, I loved it.   I’ve always loved speed, the rush of acceleration.  But as I’ve gotten older, turbulence just doesn’t suit me well.

We took off on the plane, it was a small plane, two seats on each row.    The ride was indeed bumpy.   The kind of nauseating flight that first gets your stomach, then you start sweating and get that nauseating feeling all over.

Lotus flower, tranquility through the murkiness.

Lotus flower, tranquility through the murkiness.

We kept climbing, and then something magical happened.
We rose above the clouds.
And above the clouds there was:    blue skies.   Sunshine.
Peace.  Tranquility.  No more bumps.
In just a few minutes we were in for smooth sailing.

I looked down, and the clouds were beneath our feet.
And when risen above, they looked not menacing, but lovely.

And it struck me that our own life is often like this:

We get caught, I get caught, in the turbulence of life.
We go up, we come down, we get nauseous, we get sick to our stomach, we get sick to our hearts.

And yet beneath that turbulence, above that turbulence, there is a calm.
There is serenity.
Can we access it?

The Qur’an says: it is the remembrance of God that brings tranquility to hearts.

I also know that the turbulence is not merely something to be cast aside.  We do need to go through it.  And go through it with grace, with tenderness, and with dignity.   We can’t just set cast aside the people that cause the turbulence.   We have to do right by them.

I am reminded of the imagery of the lotus flower, rising through, and beyond the murkiness of the water.   And the very murkiness that one must rise above also fuels the flower.

There is a grace in the very thing that causes us pain.

And yet above the clouds, beneath the turbulence of the heart, there is serenity.   May it be that we can rise above the turbulence of the heart, or dive beneath them, to find the perpetual presence of serenity.   May we look back, and see that turbulence beneath our feet.

May we be able to look back, and see that same now-transcended turbulence as no longer menacing, but lovely.
May it even be that the serenity and tranquility is not merely a destination, but a result of going through the very turbulence with grace?

Every now and then we have this experience, realizing that the suffering of our heart sometimes opens our heart, allowing us to become more capable of identifying with our fellow human beings.

Here is to serenity through the turbulence, after the turbulence.
Dare we say it?   Here is to serenity, because of the turbulence, because of how we bear the storms of life.



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