How can we find stillness during a storm? How can we find calm in the middle of chaos?
During these challenging times, I reflected on how to find stillness during a storm. I looked to the Torah for inspiration in Jonah 1 – the story of Jonah fleeing from God, boarding a ship to Tarnish and then being swallowed by a whale.
“The Lord cast a might wind upon the sea, and such a great tempest came upon the sea that the ship was in danger of breaking up. In their fright, the sailors cried out, each to his own god; and they flung the ship’s cargo overboard to make it lighter for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the vessel where he lay down and fell asleep. The captain went over to him and cried out, “How can you be sleeping so soundly! Up, call upon your god! Perhaps the god will be kind to us and we will not perish”
The sailors panicked. They were so overcome with anxiety and fear that they threw over cargo from the ship which made the ship lighter and even more precarious. During a storm, a ship needs the cargo as ballast to keep the weight on the keel and help it navigate smoothly during a storm.
In addition, instead of working together, each sailor cried to his own god.
In challenging times, we need to work together as a community.
Leaders are those who notice that something (meaning Jonah’s sleeping) is amiss and call it to the attention of the community.
Only through calm action and unity of a community can we face challenging times and persevere.
Appendix: These are photos of folk art that my mom gave to me (October 6, 2015) during a difficult period in my life. They are all carvings of Jonah being swallowed by the whale.
Mom, thank you for the lesson of finding stillness in the middle of a storm.