This morning on the Today Show I watched headline, first story coverage of the rescue of a baby dolphin stranded originally on a Florida street by the storm surge from Hurricane Irma. It was likely the little guy would not survive given all that the very small dolphin had already endured to get from the street back to shore, let alone its many attempts to overcome the overpowering surf, especially now given its current state of exhaustion and near drowning. The story at the moment focussed on the beach where ultimately the two rescuers succeeded in getting the baby dolphin able to swim on its own back out to sea. A story of hope and triumph over seemingly insurmountable obstacles and hardship.
It struck me how at first blush trivial such a story might be considering the enormous devastation and destruction left in the path of such a storm of historic proportions. There must have been literally thousands of stories of human drama and suffering that could have made national news, let alone the leadoff story being about a stranded sea animal.
The fact that the news director chose this story, whether he or she realized it or not since I truly believe these moments are orchestrated by HaShem, revealed many lessons to us – the beauty in mankind to help even the smallest of creatures, the stewardship He has charged us with to care for His created beings, the need to cherish nature, the hope and ability to survive even the greatest of odds against us, the reminder that He is with us, even through the hard times.
Like many of you, I, too, was interested in watching the many videos showing Irma’s force. Why is that? Is it a bit of unhealthy voyeurism into the misfortune of others? I would hope not. At least for me, seeing a Doppler radar picture of the storm that dwarfed the entire state of Florida brought me a tangible glimpse of the magnitude of our Creator. He is our loving Abba, yet He strikes awe in us as well. From the most secular stockbroker to the humble homeless, we are reminded of a power far greater than ourselves. As houses and cars drifted away, we are reminded of what is, and is not, important in life. It is not physical possessions.
We are reminded that all power lies with our Creator. We are reminded of the need to help each other, to serve. We are reminded of the healing power of love. We are reminded that there is hope, for as we love each other in times of need, He draws us ever closer to feel His loving presence that brings us a vision of the future, one of peace and goodness. Yes, those affected have months of work ahead to rebuild their lives. But as they start again with the basic needs for survival – food, shelter, and clothing – perhaps there will be less superficial distractions and perceived complexities of life – choosing which dress or shoes to wear, type of junk food, vacation disappointments, lack of time for others, gossip – maybe more time for church or synagogue, for prayer.
So what can you do if you’re reading this and are not in the affected areas? It’s easy to be engaged in the drama via media and then go back to our normal routines. I would encourage you to take the lessons to heart that our Mexican, Caribbean, Houston, Florida, Georgia, and other brothers and sisters are experiencing. As the drama fades from the headlines, continue prayers and aid as you can to the many areas undergoing extraordinary challenges brought on by natural disasters, not just in these areas. Perhaps smaller challenges even in your own communities or state. The opportunities to be a light of His Love are endless.
May it not take a hurricane to start anew this Rosh Hashonah to simplify our lives, remove the distractions from Him, and recenter our priorities. May it not take a hurricane to live our lives serving others, and in doing so, serve Him, and dwell in awe of our Abba.