I live at the end of a gravel road; from the main road, turn right and slow down as your car's tires go from concrete to packed mud. The eight houses on our road sit within a larger woods. Hundreds of tall trees look down on you as you drive my way. Make sure you take your time, keep your eyes open for foxes and deer, hawks and raccoons. Our house is the yellow one, with a wrap-around porch and toys littering the yard. There are acres of trees all around us, starting with the line of dogwoods and elms and one pretty red maple at the edge of the yard. Past that line of trees is the thicker woods. These woods go on and on and on.
From my kitchen all you can see is trees, and maybe the creek if it's been raining and the water level is high enough. And right now, all you can hear are trees as well. All night long, the wind has been blowing them, pushing them around, whistling through them, making them dance. There is a constant roar outside, as if a waterfall sits in our backyard, instead of woods. And from time to time, a bigger gust swells--it starts small and builds, builds, builds until the final whoosh, and that finale makes the ends of the trees shudder and shake. The sound of it is frightening and impressive. At times I have to stop typing, as if honoring this wind with my full attention.
Wind at a solid 30 and 40 miles per hour--with insanely strong gusts past 60 miles an hour--make me think. If you were sitting here with me, on my simple, solid kitchen table with a cup of simple, strong coffee, I think you'd get quiet, pay attention to the wind, and start thinking, too. Because my house sits atop a little hill, the likelihood of a tree falling on the house is actually pretty low. I think about that when it gets windy like this. When I was in middle school in Hawaii, living on Schofield Barracks with my Army family, a tree fell on a house and killed a sleeping baby. The story haunts me, as my three babies sleep upstairs in this wind storm. How suddenly things change. How quickly one tree would change my whole life, challenge my entire outlook, shake my faith in God. Just one tree. Just one gust. Just like that.
I sit here in my simple yellow house at the end of my solid table in the sort of quiet not known in my kid-filled kitchen as another gust makes the corners of my house creak from the pressure. Maybe sitting here is a simple, solid, quiet act of faith. I breathe deeply and try to let go of all that I can't control. The wind is the most obvious of those things at the moment. But there are many, many others both big and small. Some that make my heart ache, others that make me furious, still some other things that make me feel confused and helpless. Life can feel overwhelming at the moment, but learning to sit here in the quiet, dark house, and remain at ease with the trees and the wind--maybe this is active trust. The wind is overwhelming out there, but no trees are falling. They bend to the overwhelming wind, but they are strong. They don't break.