The other day, I spent the afternoon on the wide front porch wrapped around a beautiful house that was built in 1830. A great breeze cooled us as my family and I watched boats glide down the Intracoastal Waterway, and gazed on the homes of Wrightsville Beach, along the Atlantic Ocean, just across from us. Some of the oak trees on the property were amazing - with trunks so thick you couldn't get your arms around them, and soaring into the sky. There was even a tree house on the one acre property, built high in a spreading oak in 1904, and with a spiral metal staircase rising up to it.
The house had stood and the trees had grown through nearly two centuries of coastal storms, as well as sunshine. And both the storms and the beautiful days had contributed to the beauty we experienced.
I was reminded of a statement once made by one of my favorite stoic philosophers, Seneca, who wrote this in first century Rome, in an essay called "On Providence":
Why, then, do you wonder that good men are shaken in order that they may grow strong? No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing, it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely - the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. It is, therefore, to the advantage of good men, to the end that they may be unafraid, to live constantly amidst alarms and to bear with patience the happenings that are ills only to him who ill supports them.
As Florida Scott Maxwell wrote in her incredibly wise little book The Measure of My Days, the things that we most resist and dislike, the things that cause us the most worry and pain, are often the very things that strengthen and deepen us the most, if we do our best to respond well. The storms of life can work a magic in us that transforms us into the people we're capable of being. Remember that in your next storm. Put out deeper roots, and grow tall.