Until this past week, I had never heard of a bomb cyclone. But it’s formidable-sounding enough that I knew it referred to a nasty storm, even before I saw it described as “blizzard conditions and hurricane-like winds.”

Shortly before Christmas, I saw a weather report about Winter Storm Dylan, which was dumping snow, sleet, and freezing rain in the Northeast.  Again, I thought, “I’ve never heard of that before.” I’m very familiar with winter storms, of course, having spent almost 60 years of my life in Chicago and Minnesota. But I never heard of winter storms being given names. I thought that was just for hurricanes.

It turns out the Weather Channel has been naming winter storms for five years. I guess they were just never on my radar – no pun intended – the way hurricane names were, like Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

It’s no exaggeration to say that this past year’s extremes of weather-related disasters, from heat and hurricanes to wildfires and freezing temperatures, are the worst that many of us can remember.

Other types of storms have also been devastating this year. In politics, sports, and the entertainment industries, to name a few, violently opposing forces and viewpoints have wreaked havoc on many people’s lives. I now find myself scanning the headlines every day to find out what new battles, threats, and scandals are at the forefront.

A crazy thought occurred to me recently, and it’s this: What if all these storms are related – the weather storms and the other kind? It suddenly makes me think of an old television commercial in which we heard, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” after Mother Nature was misled into thinking Chiffon Margarine was actually her “sweet, creamy butter.” She then raised her arms in anger, and brought forth a booming thunderstorm in revenge.

I don’t really think margarine has anything to do with the weather, and I don’t think storms are either the cause or the result of the strife many of us are feeling these days. But I do know that the weather can affect how we feel. And I know that what we do to our land, air, and water, affects our environment in many ways.  So maybe it’s not such a crazy idea after all.

Still, the real question now is, “What can I do about it?”

After thinking about it for a while, I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is remember and practice the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, who said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” And I can reinforce that with a line from an old hymn that states, “No storm can shake my inmost calm.”

I can’t do anything to influence bomb cyclones or blizzards, just as I can’t do anything to change the behavior of others. But I can hold on as best I can to the peace and calm that comes from within. And I can hope that my example will help others do the same.

If enough of us do this, perhaps we can have a calming effect on the storms – all of them – that are now raging around us.

January 5, 2018
©Betty Liedtke, 2018

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