I love this picture. My sister bought me a copy of it many years ago when I was very ill. I had seen it and mentioned that it spoke to me of precisely how I felt. I felt I was being battered, that I was standing in the very epicentre of the storm, the deluge, the ‘forces’ doing their very best to drown me, defeat me, to wash me away. But I felt I was being held. I felt that as strong as the barrage was, and it felt not simply strong but incredibly strong, that I was on firm ground. There were a hundred and one places I could be standing where I would have been swept away, drowned, buried…but the one pace where I was standing, even though it felt like it was directly facing this freezing onslaught, was firm ground.
That’s why I loved this picture so very much.
Different people find themselves in different storms of varying strengths and have their own places where they can go to feel secure, on firm ground. It could be something as simple as a song that takes you away to a place where you draw strength, a book you escape into, a person you know you can always rely on, a quiet place you can go to calm and gather your thoughts. A park bench, a drive in a car to a rest stop where you simply sit and gaze over the view of the sea or a field or even a multi-story car park where the view is row after row of cars and dirty concrete pillars but it is your oasis for awhile. Or it could be a complete unexpected source, one of those times you say you’d never have expected to get help from there.
In all these instances, that place where you find your anchor in the storm is an inner place. Wherever you are geographically, your peace ultimately comes from your mind, something external can trigger something inside that opens the fountains of inner calm and it may be a battle to find that inner place but ultimately the calm comes from within. That song that takes you away somewhere in your mind, the book that fires your imagination and brings the calm. The view, whether spectacular or a concrete pillar in a car park, gives your mind enough breathing space to locate the security you need. The pet that suddenly reminds you of what love is, the branches and the leaves that are tossed about but the tree roots stay in the ground.
For me it was an inner conversation with God fired by looking at this picture. This picture was appropriate for me because the fierceness of the storm, the huge waves, the vulnerability of the figure at the lighthouse door, reflected exactly the vulnerability I felt in the face of the storm that ravaged my soul. Yet I still stood. I felt my inner self feeling very fragile, yet still standing, in the face of a spiritual storm which raged around me. My mind felt dislocated, tossed and turned and ravaged and battered before being dropped to the ground where it shattered before very slowly starting to rebuilds itself from the myriad pieces which survived.
Some parts were battered pieces of the old me, some parts had been transformed entirely and were akin to altogether new pieces, some parts I didn’t recognise and had no idea what to do with but they were now parts of me and would be discovered and used in due course.
All the time I felt my feet on firm ground even as the waves battered around me. Ever tried to walk through torrential rain with nothing but an umbrella that’s seen better days? Or a hood that’s designed more for fashion than to actually keep the rain out, or you have to resort to a plastic bag on your head? Or you have nothing and nowhere to shelter and the rain stings your eyes and you simply have to march on one foot in front of the other with your head lowered so your chin is buried in your chest? Sometimes you simply stand there, unmoving though not unmoved, gathering what strength you can before moving on? Finally you get there, you reach safety and the storm eases, the landscape changes and the storm vanishes as suddenly as it had begun, and you look back and can’t quite belief the battle you fought only moments before. And yet here you are, here you still are! You stand intact, if not the same person, you are here! You have survived, you are a survivor and have overcome phenomenal odds! Well done you! You are a hero! Your story will inspire others and your story will inspire you when you face future storms, for be in no doubt, they will come. Your fight has marked you, scarred you, and though the outer bruises will fade, the inner ones will take longer and although they have power good and bad, they can serve to remind you that you fought, you were afflicted and you survived. You faced the worst, or something pretty fierce, and you’re still here!
Look at you! Look at you!! Windswept, battered, bruised, resembling an undefined object dragged backwards through a hedge, feet sore, fingers bleeding where they’ve dug into the ground to keep hold, muscles screaming in pain where they’ve strained against the tide. But you’re here and you’re beautiful.
That inner places you went to, where you found the strength to go on, to fight, on, whether that fight was a crawl or a jog or a sprint, that’s your somewhere amazing.
Well done you!