Hurricanes and Riverbeds

I dig storms. I always have. The build up, the uncertainty, the excitement, the aftermath. Thunderstorms, hurricanes, snowstorms, blizzards. I have biked and run in conditions ill-suited for humans; walked in waist-deep streets after hurricanes and driven around surveying storm and snow damage.

I am not alone. We don’t have a Weather Channel obsession because of days of abundant sunshine.

September is a time of year on the east coast where storms find their way into our psyche–the possibility, the coming of them, the anticipation.


Rainer Maria Rilke is one of a handful of writers I come back to over and again, for inspiration, for glimpses behind the curtain, for a kindred historical soul. Rilke wrote his “Duino Elegies” and “Sonnets to Orpheus” in what can only be described as storms of creativity; visions channeling divine inspiration. He described it as a “hurricane of the spirit.”

mountain-ranges, peaks growing red in the dawn
of all Beginning,–pollen of the flowering godhead,
joints of pure light, corridors, stairways, thrones,
space formed from essence, shields made of ecstasy, storms
of emotion whirled into rapture (from The Second Elegy)

Rilke wrote in a whirlwind. Reading about the intensity of effort and emotion and thought he went through in writing, I’m not sure many of us would want, or survive, his hurricane of the spirit intact.

Being in a constant state of storm, or constantly on guard for a storm doesn’t seem like a way to live life. Richard Rohr‘s daily e-mail yesterday morning offered a different approach to being swept up in the storm.

The contemplative’s inner stance is not one of being swept downriver along with everything else. The contemplative’s repose is not a passive state, but an engaged, silent receptivity… like a riverbed, which is constantly receiving and letting go in the very same moment. Vigilant receptivity and nonclinging release are one and the same for this riverbed awareness as it constantly receives all coming from upstream while at the very same moment releasing all downstream. – Martin Laird

Be the riverbed. That’s easy enough, right? Take all that life throws at you, let it wash over you, and don’t cling too tightly to any of it.

It’s a repose. It’s a metaphor. Easier said than done, but helpful. It’s a letting go of the storm, of worries, while being receptive and mindful. Not a bad stance for a Monday.

2016 Sept Town Creek chill

Author: Michael Valliant

I am a father, a writer, a runner, a hiker, reader, follower of Christ, a longboard skateboarder, stand-up paddleboarder, kayaker, novice birder, sunrise chaser, daily coffee drinker, occasional beer sipper. I live in Oxford on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where I am the Assistant for Adult Christian Education and Small Groups at Christ Church Easton by day. I am on a walk of faith, a spiritual adventure, following where God leads, sharing my story as it unfolds.

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