Weaving Wheels: On Tornados and the Nature of Service

Aaron and I live less than 10 miles away from the devastation of the May, 20th tornadoes that ripped through Moore Oklahoma. There's a palpable energy in the atmosphere, a mixture of sadness, hope and awe. This morning I was inspired and humbled by that energy and was reminded of the principles of compassion, service and the ultimate Is-ness of Reality.

I've seen, as I'm sure many others have as well, touching and remarkable stories of heroic service to the victims of the tornado. Many of us have seen an outpouring of support on social media to help people find food, shelter, and their loved ones. Essentially what I've observed is the temporary collective elevation of consciousness that is common when disaster strikes. For a period of time people move beyond their individual experiences and become more loving and collectively aware. Compassion swells, their hearts open and empathy and service are rendered. It is an interesting and humbling phenomena.

In these initial stages people galvanize to help victims in practical ways, which is the first level of service that is needed in the wake of chaos. Food is collected, clothing is donated, rubble is removed, searches are performed and homes and wallets are open. This level of service must come first for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which is that the physical necessity of these issues must be addressed as they pose an imminent threat to people's survival. 

On a deeper level this is the first type of service rendered because people initially relate to the loss of tangible forms in victim's lives. The ability to empathize with the dissolution of ones outward life is what pushes many people to a new state of consciousness because the devastation is too extreme to ignore. People often think, "what if I lost my house, car, child, mother, father, boyfriend, etc.." Watching news coverage of the dissolution of form of this magnitude (replace tornado with any seemingly chaotic event) shakes people's security and empathy is activated which moves people into service oriented action. They serve the other as they would want to be served. They realize the temporality of their physical lives and that realization moves them into action.

However, there are different levels of service. Some people are unable or unwilling to help on the level of form  (for a variety of reasons), and may prefer, or only be able, to send prayers, energy or some other form of "intangible" service to those in need. Often this level of service is marginalized or judged because the visible result of their service is not immediately seen.

I like to think of the Universe and its "goings-on" as an intricately designed tapestry (an analogy used many times before). With each happening and event a new intricacy is woven into the pattern.  Each person plays a role in the creation of the tapestry and as such the beings (human and non-human) on this planet are essentially the threads. Ultimately the universe (nature, God(ess), life, etc.,) is the ultimate weaver of that pattern. The veritable seamstress at the wheel.  

Using this analogy I understand how each thread is uniquely important and may seem insignificant at any particular time but without it the design would be incomplete. It's not impossible to be aware of the overall design of the tapestry but some threads get so caught up in their particular placement in the weave they fail to see the importance or placement of the other threads.

Archetypally everyone is meant to serve in different ways. Some people are meant to go out in the trenches and gather supplies and rescue, while others are meant to offer condolences, wisdom and peace of mind. Some are meant to calculate, assess and strategize while still others are meant to document or report. No one role is more important in the weave than another. When crisis occurs (which is part of the weave) each thread will serve its function in the design of the pattern. 

Many counselors and therapists work with those who, months or years after an initial disaster occurs, are still healing the psychological, spiritual and mental damage from the catastrophe. After the tangible clean up efforts are completed and those who came to their rescue in those moments return to their normal lives, there can be a sense of abandonment for the victim.

Some people believe that because the house is rebuilt, the money came in, or the funeral is over that their lives are whole again. This is often far from the case. Hence another important deployment of service is necessary and is carried out by the counselors, ministers, social workers, grief counselors, spiritual advisors, etc.

Alternately, the artist is meant to capture the emotion of the moment and the scientist is meant to record the data. The mother at home teaches her child about disaster safety and the looter rummages through rubble. 

Others are meant to dissent, criticize and whistle blow at times when others are immersed in clean up efforts and feeding the hungry. 

The weave continues, each thread playing an integral role. 

In order to maintain the spirit of compassion it's important to note that every thread is laid in the creation of the pattern with perfect symmetry

I'm reading the Wheel of Time Series by fantasy writer Robert Jordan (who uses the analogy of the tapestry as a conceit throughout the novels) and frequently in the books the wisest characters repeat a phrase which I find beautiful and appropriate: "The wheel weaves as the wheel wills".

Implicit in this wisdom is that even in the midst of chaos there is order (chaos theory in physics explores this more). The wheel is the universal principle of the cyclical nature of time and nature, and while we effect the weave, we are ultimately at the mercy of its whims, we can look up and see the weave with awe and beauty, grumble or cower in confusion over its ways. Resistance often leads to pain and disappointment.

The artist's vision is often unfathomable to the brush.

At times we are awestruck by the power of the wheel and we shift to love and compassion. Sometimes we forget the ultimate power of reality and fall back asleep. For me, times like this require peaceful surrender; a knowing that everything happens exactly the way it is supposed to. And while it does not immediately lessen the shock of chaotic events it allows me to relax and serve the way I'm meant to.

Indeed, the wheel weaves as the wheel wills.