Few things make us aware of the wildness and strength of weather like a tornado. They often are formed in the aftermath of a storm that by itself is overwhelmingly powerful. They appear quickly and seem to vanish suddenly, leaving destruction in their wake. Advance warning serves to allow some people to protect themselves, but there is little that can be done to protect property or the land in general from the force of a “twister.” Survivors, especially those who are sheltering in their homes when the storm hits, have incredible stories that share many elements. Most people, regardless of what happens to the structure they are in, describe the incredible force with which the wind rips and blows, and in particular, the sounds. It’s described as being “like a freight train,” “explosions,” “deafening,” and “a fighter.” Neighborhoods that have been affected are often described as “war zones.” The violence experienced by survivors is palpable to those of us who listen to their stories or see images of what has been left behind.
The body and soul after violence
Violence touches the body and soul in a unique way. It is difficult to not absorb into our spirits what we have seen with our eyes, heard with our ears, and felt with our skin. In companioning someone who has survived a tornado, we need to be sensitive to not only the grief and questions that come with loss, but the very real and lingering effects of violence. We will do well to remember the very real force and pressure that survivors have lived through. Survivors of violence, even violent acts of nature, need to experience empowerment and encouragement as part of the healing process.
In companioning someone who has survived a tornado, we need to be sensitive to not only the grief and questions that come with loss, but the very real and lingering affects of violence.
Empowerment and encouragement through posture
Some of the simplest ways to bring empowerment and encouragement to the spiritual journey are through trying different postures for prayer or meditation, and practicing gratitude. Practicing gratitude puts us in the position of looking at what is good, what is helpful, and what is holy. Often these are things that cannot be truly harmed, or things that may have been overlooked in what looks and feels like devastation. Using different postures in prayer is a helpful way of bringing the body, and the nervous system in particular, into alignment with our emotions. This allows our body to speak for us when words fail, and conversely, may help us find words for what can become trapped in our bodies.
Some postures to try may include:
-Standing, head up, eyes open.
-Standing with arms at sides, palms open to the front.
-Standing with arms half raised, palms open.
-Standing or sitting with palms open or fists closed.
-Lying on one’s back, palms open and facing up.
In general, we can encourage our directees to continue moving and adjusting their posture until they discern that their body’s position matches the emotion they feel. From this aligned and grounded place they can hopefully enter in to the Presence their unique situation hungers after.
A Prayer for After a Tornado
Oh God, so much has changed!
In mere minutes, the courses of our lives feel different.
Oh God, it was so loud!
The raging strength of the storm was terrifying.
We were so suddenly vulnerable.
We felt our smallness, and it did not feel good.
We feel violated. So much was lost.
Our safe spaces were intruded upon with force.
Our grief is so big, so strong!
Help us to remember.
Help us to remember that You are gentle.
Help us to again hear the Still, Small, Voice with which You speak.
Restore us to a place of tender strength.
Remind us of the power that is in gentleness.
Heal our hearts as we rebuild.
Help us find connection with each other and with You.
Help us to cherish what we have.
Be gentle with us.
Nurture us tenderly.
Soothe us with Your Presence.
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Expanding understanding and best practices for holistic health in the context of spiritual direction.