middot humility besorah calm spirit despite the storm

calm spirit despite the storm

Written by  rebbetzin malkah

art-kinneretIt happened on that day at the turning of evening that he said them, “Let us go across to the other side of the sea.” They left the crowd of people and took him in the boat where he was, but other boats followed him. A great, stormy wind arose, and the waves were flooding inside the boat, to the point where it was almost full. He was asleep on the cushion in the stern of the boat, so they woke him up and said to him, “Rabbi, are you not worried about us? We are perishing!” He woke up and reprimanded the wind, and he said to the sea, “Hush and be silent!” The wind calmed down, and there was a great silence. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Why are you lacking emunah?"  --Mark 4:35-40, DHE

This story illustrates a great storm and our Mashiach hushing the wind.  However, in our day to day events, how do we calm the storms of our lives?  Do we exhibit the same type of fear and trembling as the talmidim of Yeshua?  Or rather, when the storms rage or we receive unexpected, startling news, do we have his calming presence among us so that the storms have minimal effect?

seas of life

I can remember several years ago that I received a distressing call from my family across the country on a Friday afternoon.  The call was regarding my grandmother—she had taken a turn for the worse and she wasn't expected to have much time left.  I had to make quick plans to travel to New York that evening. With laundry in the midst of being folded and preparations for Shabbat still going on, I can remember the overwhelming feeling of not being able to control my circumstances.  How would I even finish preparing for Shabbat, complete last minute work and get to New York?  Also, if I had to be away past the weekend, who would watch our younger three children while my husband worked?  The antidote to this situation was not only to keep a level head and pace myself through whatever I could finish in the time I had, but also reaching out to a friend who could lend a hand. She came over to our home without hesitation and proceeded to help me finish tasks while I made airline plans and began to pack. 

how do we row?

When someone's health hangs in the balance, tragedy strikes, or the uncertainty of life looms, a natural and untempered reaction can sometimes be to become unsettled and upset, maybe even hysterical.  Many times, we believe that our only solution is to handle everything ourselves, or mabe internalize everything and then self-implode, or worse, react irrationally and lash out on those around us. 

The secret to manifesting equanimity is not through callousness; rather, it is realizing that the strength that Yeshua exhibited in calming the storm resides in all of us.  We have the power to calm the storms of our existence through resolve and unwavering faith.  This inner strength has the ability to handle the sometimes unsettling boat-rocking that events cause in our lives. Another key to equanimity is also not fooling ourselves into thinking we will be exempt from moments of testing.  Knowing that life will send us the unexpected, we can exercise our ability to remain balanced through faith and self-control.  In practicing this, we can more easily maneuver through uncertainty without becoming undone.

What the example of Yeshua calming the storm also teaches us is that sometimes the stilling of the raging seas can come from unexpectated places.  We must remember that many times there are pragmatic, real-life solutions around us that are waiting to be called upon: perhaps a friend, spouse or stranger who can lend a hand in a time of need.  We don't always have to handle a situation alone—we have someone outside the "boat" who can help more times than not.  We just need to be level-headed enough to consider the possibility.

A calm soul, even in the midst of testing, is a powerful tool in managing life's challenges.  If we possess or refine this middah within ourselves, we will find that we will have not only the ability to make it through the tests of life, but do so with less stress on ourselves and those around us.


Gospel references taken from Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels (DHE)®, © Copyright Vine of David 2010. Used by permission.

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