In the wake of the past two weeks of this active hurricane season—Gustav and Hanna, with Ike and Josephine still to come—there have been the predictable set of reports about preparations for the latest storm, evacuations, the need for stricter coastal building codes, etc. We’ve heard from the guys who fly planes into the eye and how forecasters predict the storm’s track.
But why are there so many hurricanes this year? The easiest and most reflexive explanation is that this is yet another evidence of global warming. But another theory is gaining strength among hurricane researchers: dust.
Apparently, during most years, satellite imagery shows a large concentration of dust that rises from African deserts and rides on wind currents around the globe. But this year…no dust. They don’t know why the dust has disappeared (and no, the earth is not getting cleaner). But when the dust is present, hurricanes are absent and vice-versa.
Here’s the general idea: dust refracts the light from the sun and keeps it from warming the ocean—sort of like a paper shade over a window facing west. Also, it could be that the dry dust absorbs some of the moisture that normally feeds the core of the storm. The desert dust stunts the conditions—solar heat and moisture– necessary for the storms to develop
That got me thinking. We’re made of dust, animated by the life-giving Spirit of God. God “knows that we are dust” (Ps.103:14) — frail, limited, prone to temptation, often confused and occasionally rebellious. And when we come to center our lives around faith in Jesus, it’s described as having “treasure in jars of clay.” (2 Cor.4:7)
So, what sorts of life storms might be stunted by our fully human, fully Christ-formed engagement with them? When a disciple of Jesus is involved in a situation, the life of Jesus with the energy of heaven is somehow released around us so that…
…when there is relational offense, forgiveness soothes the wound.
…when temptation beckons, holiness treasures God’s promise more.
…when despair suffocates, hope whispers sunrise in the dark.
…when legalism holds at arm’s length, grace opens arms in welcome.
…when confusion scatters options, truth simplifies the path.
…when grief tears hearts apart, compassion holds pieces together.
…when life is an unmanageable mess, love steps in – without hesitation.
Taking responsibility to increasingly resemble Jesus is one pursuit of a disciple of Jesus. But that pursuit not just for marking another line on my individual spiritual growth chart; it impacts those around me as well. That is, after all, a major point of our life on earth. You know, the whole “love your neighbor…do unto others…” thing.
Just maybe, if I were a bit more “dusty” in my daily, ongoing relationships and activities; more responsive to the gentle promptings of the Spirit’s wind to speak or hush or get involved or take a risk; then, there would be a few less storms in the lives I encounter. And that would be a deeply loving way to live