As a child, I lived in the western part of Texas. One of the things I liked about that area was the thunderstorms. Thunder and lightning is beautiful in a way. There is nothing quite like being in a sturdy house as the rain pours down and the wind whips and the thunder booms. I was pleasantly surprised to find those kind of thunderstorms further north where I am now.
When the tornado sirens went off last night, just when I had gotten to sleep, I was not enjoying the storm so much. The birds weren't particularly happy to be woken up and hauled down to the basement, either. (Although it seems symmetrical, somehow, to them waking us up for an earthquake.)
At work today, everyone was comparing notes about the storm. How much water one had in the basement was a typical measurement; one man had two feet of water and won what seemed to have become an unofficial contest. There was a distinct feeling of camaraderie about the whole business.
During the day, I learning one of our customers lost his business. His company is in one of the most affected towns, and is now under ten feet of water. "Total loss" was how the news was conveyed to us. It is very unsettling to have someone I'm acquainted with lose so much that he's worked for decades to build up.
I feel like there's some meaning in the dichotomy of these experiences. It's tempting to judge the experience of a thunderstorm "good" when it's only effect is to inspire awe of nature, and "evil" when it pulls me out of a sound sleep in fear of my life. "Good" when it pulls people together with a common experience, "evil" when it causes massive destruction. But it's all the same storm.
A while back, I read a comment on Tiny Cat Pants that has stuck with me:
...we are the ones assigning labels like that. Do you think the universe, or God, looks down at a cat tossing around a mouse and cruelly killing it as “monster like”? Of course not. We assign flaw to humans. We say, since you did “this” or are like “that”, you must be flawed.... But, I don’t believe God looks upon us as flawed whatsoever.I believe it's related to this kind of experience, where things humans judge as "good" or "bad" are actually just different facets of the same entity. Jen at "Et tu?" wrote just yesterday of how suffering is related to things we value in life. Jen approaches it from a Christian point of view, asking what the role of God and Satan is in these types of experiences. I'm not sure they can be separated into "God" and "Satan" camps, though: the good and bad seem to me to be inextricably intertwined: like they are coming from a being that does not view good and evil the same way humans do, that sees the universe from a more overarching perspective.
Jen called her post "half-baked", in that she felt this idea was important but she couldn't completely articulate why. I feel much the same way. Even after having these thoughts running around in my head for months, and now organizing them into this post, I think it's still something I'll be exploring for a while.