It’s a bit challenging to be grateful that my friends and family seem to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Ian, though the fate of my brother’s house in Naples remains to be determined, and Charleston cousins await the second landfall. Of course I’m grateful for the safety of my beloveds, but this catastrophe really hammers home our interconnectedness on this planet: the destruction of so much habitat, humans’ and other species alike, affects us all. As I experience relief, many thousands of others grieve their losses; and many non-human sentient beings have lost their lives or homes as well. This is a spiritual conundrum that requires strength, courage, and equanimity to be able to hold awareness of both the horrors and losses, as well as gratitude for the joys and blessings, of life in the Anthropocene.
I’m grateful for helpers of all kinds. Grateful for friends who bring me groceries, for bodyworkers who work my bones and muscles toward healing, and the bodies of friends, and all the healers who work all the bodies and souls toward healing. Grateful for the road builders and flag people and pilot car drivers who keep the roads in shape, and for all people who work hard or tedious but necessary jobs to keep the transportation arteries of the world healthy and flowing.
I’m grateful for weather forecasters and reporters, whether or not they get it just right but especially when they do; grateful for the men and women who step out into hurricanes to bring us updates, and especially for those across Florida across channels all day today. Grateful for the technology that allows anchors in the studio to talk onscreen with reporters standing in the eye of the storm, and then beams their stories into my living room. Grateful for the relative security and comfort I’ve enjoyed today compared to the terror and uncertainty so many experience worldwide, especially in catastrophic weather events like Hurricane Ian. Grateful that as far as I know so far, my friends and family have fared okay through the day, and hoping they make it through the night.
Feeling intense compassion for the suffering of all those people who didn’t make it out, didn’t survive, or will find tomorrow that they lost homes or loved ones; and for the dolphins breaking surface behind one of the reporters on the beach, and all the creatures that were sucked out of bays on the north side of the eye and those smashed onto land with storm surge; and for the land mammals, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians who lost their homes or their lives in this storm and will in days to come to the floods it fuels. Feeling intense compassion for a planet pushed to the breaking point: as a dog tormented will finally turn and bite, so our earth displays her natural reaction to the torture we’ve visited upon her as our human population and its incessant demands escalate. It’s certainly not her fault.
I’m grateful for my capacity to feel empathy and compassion for those who are suffering, and to feel gratitude for the helpers of all kinds; those simply doing their quotidian jobs on a calm fall day, and those rising to remarkable occasions, as so many will tomorrow across the Florida peninsula cleaning up debris that was once treasure, restoring power, rescuing people and animals from untenable situations, feeding the foodless, repairing homes and habitats. On and on it goes.