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Edition Eighteen

Light Your Way through Life's Storms


Arguably the most famous lighthouse in the world, the Cape Hatter as Lighthouse on the shores of the Outer Banks near Buxton, North Carolina was pounded by Mother Nature's destructive Hurricane Isabel in September 2003 -- yet still remained standing.

You would think that this would not have been such a difficult thing for a sturdy lighthouse, but considering this structure's history, it is nearly a miracle.

Built in 1870, 1,500 feet from the shoreline, it is the tallest brick lighthouse in the U.S., standing 200 feet tall and weighing approximately 2,800 tons.

Because the surrounding coastal area is often hit with pulverizing storms and rushing floods, the tides have gradually eroded the beaches around the lighthouse, threatening to topple the structure.

In May 2001, funds were gathered to complete a daunting engineering task to move the lighthouse to safer ground, 1,600 feet inland. More than two years later after the move and Hurricane Isabel, the lasting lighthouse stands tall as a symbol of the strength and resiliency of the area's people. Many view the sentinel as both a figurative and literal emblem of how light can guide your way in the darkness.

All of us, at one time or another, find ourselves in the dark, in a stormy sea of life. What light will we turn to in order to find our way to shore?

"My mother had a brain tumor about 15 years ago, and it was a major interruption in the life of (my) family that had known relatively smooth sailing up to that point. But my mother's deep faith through that experience helped the faith of everyone in my family. It was a lesson to me of the contagious power of faith," says Father Edward Beck, a Roman Catholic priest.

"My mother was able to remain peaceful because of a spiritual haven she had cultivated through years of prayer and commitment," says Beck, author of Unlikely Ways Home: Real-life Spiritual Detours and who says his mother's spirituality also gave him a desire to want to cultivate his own spiritual ability to center himself.

"Faith and prayer both have common effects because they allow us to experience that we are not alone in the universe," says Beck. Indeed, you can feel a calming effect in the midst of a personal storm through having a relationship with a higher power.

For some, adversity takes over their lives, such as in the case of a significant illness or health problem. Reverend Willia Brown is Director of Pastoral Care at Mount Sinai and Schwab Rehabilitation hospitals in Chicago. She says that it is apparent that for many of the hospitals' patients and families, religion and spirituality can help them endure extraordinarily difficult times.

She relates how in labor and delivery a mother was enduring hard labor pains, which were eased with prayer -- she felt more relaxed and better tolerated the birthing process. Or, in another example, Brown says she saw a mother and a father grieve over the fatal accident of their 22-year-old son, whom they had prayed would be kept safe from harm; "spiritual care interventions helped them process their anger and accept the almost unacceptable," says Brown.

Dr. Daphne Stevens says that it is important to know that we belong to something much larger than ourselves. As a result, "we tend to feel less victimized, less prone to bitterness," says the author of Watercolor Bedroom: Creating a Soulful Midlife

When things look hopeless and bad, here are practical thoughts to tackle what at first seems the impossible:

Live in the present moment: The present is all we have. Deal with today and let tomorrow take care of itself, living with faith.

Notice everyday joy: Remember the saying "can't see the forest through the trees?" Don't miss the blessing of life that is sometimes hard to see in the midst of adversity.

Focus on what is important: Spirituality, friends, family, and other things that really matter need to be our focus.

Engage spiritual solutions: Mimi Doe, founder of www.spiritualparenting.com, believes there is a spiritual solution for every problem. "Remember, the problems you tussle with aren't obstacles to your spiritual practice. They are your spiritual practice."

© Copyright 2004 Terra Wellington

By Terra Wellington