A peaceful little oasis in midtown Manhattan

I pray that you are well and well-rested as time has “fallen back.” I am doing very well, and I’m elated by the fact that President Obama has been re-elected. While no human, president or government is perfect, I truly believe he was the better choice and, thankfully, many of you agreed.

On the flipside of my happiness about the election, my heart is feeling very heavy for my brothers and sisters in my home city of New York, and all of the Atlantic locales – including Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic – who were hard hit by hurricane Sandy. To give an idea of its magnitude: Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and is the second costliest hurricane in US history after hurricane Katrina. Light and elevation to those whose lives were lost, and much ase and healing energy to those who have lost their homes, cars and other life necessities.

Though media coverage has slowed down, the rebuilding has really just begun and will be underway for quite some time. Material things, like clothes and food, as well as volunteers are needed up and down the East Coast. To help out in New York, click here, for other locales, click here. Having gone to New Orleans to volunteer post-Katrina I understand all too well the devastation and loss, but also the resilience and generosity of our human spirits that can help to mediate the hurt.

When these types of disasters occur, it can be hard to remain positive. We wonder: Why do things like this have to happen? Why do we have to lose people and things that mean so much to us? So many questions…

It can be hard to accept that our Mother Earth runs on cycles: there are times of destruction, times of rebirth, times of death, times of life, and times of renewal. We as humans have sought to make the earth conform to our way of life when, really, it is we who must conform to hers. Even as we seek to control and abuse her, she arises and reminds us that she is the mother on whose back we ride and that no matter how many machines, skyscrapers, or highways we build she can shut it down in a matter of hours. She can make even “the city that never sleeps” lay down and take a nap.

It’s deeply humbling.

As we bind together in these difficult moments, we begin to realize that our greatest capital is still each other. The power of hugs, smiles, loving hands handing over blankets or warm cups of soup, children who still laugh and play without any of the things we think they “need” to be happy -- these things are worth more than all the currency flowing through Wall Street. While there are always those who will use experiences like these to spread negativity and blame, there are many more who use them to spread love, exhibit hospitality and display generosity.

In the Ifa-Orisa tradition, the orisa (deity) associated with the wind – and also with the Niger River and, thus, with water – is known as Oya. Among other things, she is a fierce warrior and a harbinger of change, a bringer of destruction that in turn springs into creation. Since hurricane Sandy, I have been asked if I believe that the hurricane occurred because Oya was “angry.” I must offer an emphatic “no” in answer to that question.

Destruction does not only occur because of “divine anger” or retribution, destruction is a necessary part of creation.  So no, I don’t believe Oya was angry, I believe she was doing what she is supposed to do: assisting the necessary cycles of life and death to occur. Razing some things so that others will grow. Removing some energies so that others can flow in. Forcing us to pause and remember what is truly important.

A friend on Facebook remarked that her power loss after the storm led her to take refuge at her sister’s house. She and her sister had been “too busy” to spend a lot of time together lately but this situation forced them both to pause and take some quality time for each other and they have since pledged to do so more often. These are the types of reminders seeming adversity can provide and they are lessons that are much needed in our hustle bustle society. 

For me, the essence of being a positive person is accepting the cycles of life – though I may not like or fully understand them – and flowing along with them. It is certainly not easy, but it is necessary if we are to continue to live and thrive.

Today and every day, may we be strengthened to ebb and flow with the cycles of life. Let us remain humble and act as stewards and lovers of our mother earth, not as dominators and abusers. Let us remain connected with one another that we may help each other through these ordeals as we always have. Each time Oya's winds calm and the waters recede, may we find ourselves renewed and better than we were before. Ase!