During the storm

Is There Really Beauty in Every Storm?

This past weekend Wisconsin and Minnesota once again made the national headlines because of our severe weather conditions, actually two headlines. The first was about the magnitude of our latest snowstorm, deemed to be in the “top five” since record keeping began in the area. My little city was even mentioned on CNN where our eighteen inch snowfall and blizzard-like winds were reported on with raised eyebrows. The second headline was about the Mall of America Field, home of the MN Vikings in Minneapolis. Cameras actually caught the three tears in the roof as they happened and recorded the “dumping” of snow onto the field that ensued. There was just too much heavy snow up there on the roof and it collapsed. Such headlines probably only solidify the perhaps negative impression warmer parts of the nation harbor about this region.

This last snowstorm came without a lot of warning. Usually weather people start talking excitedly about such things days in advance. This one must have been somewhat of a sleeper at first because I didn’t hear much about it until a day or so before it hit. Mother Nature perhaps wanted to remind us all of who really is in charge of such things.

While watching the snow pile up and listening to the howling winds the other day, I was reminded of the saying, “timing is everything.” Luckily, or not so luckily if you were a student denied a snow day or a retailer hoping for holiday shoppers with bulging wallets to enter your store, this particular storm arrived on a Saturday. This allowed most people the luxury of watching the snow fall from the warmth and safety of their homes.

Such a wintery snowstorm can be a thing of beauty or a harsh frightening reality, depending on where you experience it from. When you get to observe such a storm from the comforts of home, it’s easier to see the beauty and bask in the serenity of it all. Not so much if you are caught out on the icy roads and cannot see more than a few feet in front of your vehicle.

From the vantage point of my comfortably warm home, I was definitely able to see the beauty in the storm. The snowdrift sculptures created by nature’s blustery fingertips truly created sand-dune-like mounds of beauty in my own backyard. All I had to do was take the time to see them.

If you were one of the unlucky ones caught by surprise on an icy highway while trying to make your way safely home, the storm felt entirely different. But even then if you didn’t panic, you were probably alright.

Storms of nature come and go throughout the year, some more memorable than others. Hurricane Katrina certainly holds a record for the amount of human tragedy and property devastation that is possible from such extreme storms of nature.

Thankfully, most storms are not devastating, but merely are inconveniences usually predicted days in advance. We can prepare ourselves and at least figure out how to dress for the day. Still, even minor storms often force us to change our schedules or alter our plans for the day.

Unwelcome and unpredictable storms of life like job loss, serious accidents, demise of relationships and life-threatening illness often appear suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, creating dark clouds of their own, mind-drenching fears and harsh cold realities. These storms force us to make more significant changes; we might be faced with life-altering decisions, unwelcome financial upheaval, strained relationships and numerous other new realities. We might be forced to totally “change course.”

 I always marvel at the people who call cancer and other life hardships they have endured gifts. I wonder if these people are just “eternal optimists” about life in general, the kind of people who always see the glass as half full. I wish I could be more like them. I keep looking, but most of the time I just can’t see things that way.

“Life storms” like cancer don’t begin or end with predictability. There is no reliable “forecast” to go by. There is no clear path out. Sometimes there are lulls in the storm that lead us to believe we are “in the clear,” but then something else happens and we are reminded of our storm’s turbulent and unpredictable path. We might even become temporarily blinded by the fogginess and uncertainty of it all and quite literally be “lost.”

Ultimately, that’s when we must rely on our own resolve, internal compass, faith and support of family, friends, medical professionals, fellow bloggers, pets and any other “navigators” we manage to muster up along the way. Together we find our way out, or at least muddle through life’s storm.

 If you’re really lucky you might even see some beauty somewhere along the way. I don’t know if there is beauty in every storm. The cynic in me says no, but maybe…..

Do you think there is beauty in every storm? Or does this notion perhaps even offend you? I know it offends some.

During the storm
After the storm
Another post storm

18 thoughts on “Is There Really Beauty in Every Storm?

  1. First of all, Nice Job on the header photos!

    As for cancer being a gift…I certainly wish I had never gotten cancer. I would have lived a lot longer. *snarky laugh here*

    However, having been dx almost two years ago, I’m grateful that I’ve come this far. I’m grateful for new faces I’ve met…fellow cancer patients, courageous all. And I’m grateful that I have time to reflect, to re-think how to love my loved ones, to struggle (yes, struggle) with God, not only about cancer, but about all things.

    Surprisingly, cancer allows me to almost instantly befriend other cancer patients. And they, me.

    But if it were up to me? Nah, I’d rather NOT have cancer. *pleasant smile*

    We had the blizzard, but much less snow. Still the drifted driveway was a bear to clean.

    1. WhiteStone, Hi and thanks for the compliment. I don’t see cancer as a gift either, but there are some good things that come from it like getting to know other fellow cancer patients such as yourself. It definitely has made me more reflective and appreciative about things. Does that mean there is some beauty in it?? Maybe, maybe not.

  2. My favorite quote from “Five Lessons I Didn’t Learn From Breast Cancer, and One Big One I did Learn” by Shirley Lewis: “If you think cancer is a gift, you are not invited to my birthday party.”

    But I do think the snow pictures are beautiful…just only on my computer screen as I sit in warm Southern California sipping hot coffee. 😉

  3. I will never, ever call it a gift. I’ve met people who do and find them very suspicious. However, I think it’s up to us to create meaning out of our pain. To me, finding the lessons is the only way to make sense of it all.

    1. Katie, Thanks for reading again and commenting. I like that statement, “it’s up to us to create meaning out of our own pain.” Insightful. I agree, finding lessons helps make sense of it a little bit anyway.

  4. I’d have to say that I don’t think there is beauty in EVERY storm (many, yes! but not all). I graduated from college last year, but still live fairly close to campus with some of my friends (who are still in college) because it’s near my work. It’s the week of their final exams, and yesterday a freshman boy’s truck slid off the road and into a utility pole, killing him instantly. He was on his way to take a final exam. Clearly, it’s so difficult to find beauty in that!

    Snowstorms, like cancer, are much easier to deal with if you’re watching it from afar and aren’t right in the thick of it. Great post, Nancy. I always love your creative, thought-provoking messages!

    Sami xo

    1. Sami, I’m sorry to hear about that tragic and sad accident. Nature’s storms, too, are such a contradiction. There is great beauty and yet sometimes such tragedy at the same time. Disease is a tradegy too, but some people can find gifts in there more easily than others. That’s what I find so interesting, how people cope and take from it so differently.

  5. I’ve said it before, but anyone who thinks cancer is a gift has been drinking the chemo. But I do love a good winter storm, so long as I’ve stocked the pantry before it happens. And maybe that’s what my little breast cancer blogging community represents in some way – a stocked pantry to help me ride out the storm. Lovely post Nancy.

  6. Hi Nancy,
    I thought this was a great blog post. I’m going to be in Minnesota next week experiencing all of that weather – not sure if I should be excited or scared!
    The pictures are beautiful!

    Teri

    1. Teri, Good to see you back and thanks for commenting. Just be sure to bring warm clothes next week when you come to MN. You’re picking up your son probably, right?

  7. Well, personally, I love storms, especially blizzards. I always hope that we will get a blizzard 🙂

    I guess the only good thing that can come from cancer is how it causes us to reflect and be more appreciative of ourselves and one another.

    1. Lindsay, I’ve always kinda liked blizzards too, as long as I’m safe at home and the rest of the family is too. And as long as the power doesn’t go out. I agree, cancer makes us more appreciative.

  8. Hi Nancy, I do love to sit out a storm, if, as others have said, I’m home, warm, and safe. I know that even in the thick of the worst storm, an end is inevitable. It can’t last forever, but we don’t have that certainty with the storms that wreak havoc with our lives. I don’t know how anyone can call that a gift. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made, but I’d never call it a gift. I can think of a few other gifts I’d rather have and not thinking about cancer everyday would be a start.

    Great post, Nancy and beautiful photos.

    1. Stacey, Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate what a faithful reader you are! Perhaps those people we meet and the connections we make represent the beauty in this storm.

  9. Nancy, love your pictures, along with the message.
    At this stage, cancer is definitely not a gift. Have I ever felt differently? Probably! As the disease progresses, and the side effects seem to rule each day, I would like to be anywhere but in this position.
    Time to ‘Let go and let God!’
    Thank goodness for the gift of FAITH.
    My best wishes to you always.

    1. Chez, Thanks for commenting. As someone living with disease for so long, I’m always interested in what you have to say. Like I mentioned to Stacey, there is beauty in the connections we are making along the way and I am happy we have connected. My best to you as well.

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