Shaking Off What Doesn't Serve: What Hurricane Irma Showed Me

 A lone maple tree in a field with northern lights in the background

Having just gone through hurricane Irma here in Florida, I am left with a profound sense of appreciation of survival, electricity, water, food, people, relationships, nature, my home and shelter, Florida and my inner being. And that might be just a partial list.

We didn’t receive the brunt of the storm being relatively protected in Central Florida, but my heart continually goes out to all the people of South Florida, Southwest Florida, the Keys, the Caribbean Islands and now, with hurricane Maria—she has not been so lovely as her name implies. My heart is with everyone in Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Croix and all the islands in her path.


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In no way do I wish to diminish what everyone has gone through and is still going through after Harvey, Irma and Maria in this blog post. Certainly, what everyone is enduring as a result of their fury is indeed to be taken at face value. 

Perhaps those of us who have not been blighted by the hurricanes but more lightly touched by them may be far more able at this point in time to realize the life lessons on subtler levels which the hurricanes have brought...

I couldn’t help but notice the massive amounts of tree limbs and branches stacked at the curbs for garbage pickup one night when taking a walk in my neighborhood. When I looked up into my favorite big oak trees, some of them looked almost bare compared to how they used to look. It was as if someone took the trees and just shook them rattling scores of limbs, leaves, and clumps of moss to the ground, and that’s exactly what Irma did.

It was a metaphor for life.

Sometimes life just shakes us hard causing us to let go of what no longer serves us (and often maybe never did). Garbage like limited, negative, selfish thinking gets shaken loose when we go through major life lessons. It’s then that we’re able to look at ourselves in fresh ways and to re-examine the trajectory of our spiritual path from a clearer vantage point. 

Those trees were lightened. A load was taken off their limbs. They’re probably even breathing easier right now.

The same holds true for us. It isn’t pretty or enjoyable when we go through a big life lesson but we come out of it lighter and clearer than we were before. 

In the last three years, I’ve gone through one life lesson after another. Just when I thought I was in the clear, another one would present itself to me. And it all sort of took me by surprise just like a hurricane does. You never know which way the hurricane is actually going to go!

All along I sensed something wasn’t right with me but I had no idea I was so off track with my character and behavior. I was plodding along doing as I always had done but now it wasn’t working.

And then I got slapped upside the head. And then again. And again. It was traumatic for me because what I was being faced with and mirrored to me from other people was very contrary to my view of myself. But sometimes things just need to get shaken loose.

But today I can say I am so glad it all happened otherwise I would never have discovered the outrageous most beautiful wisdoms and knowledges I have been able to receive through a newfound clarity in the last year. 

I was totally responsible for creating this very necessary purging, a purging just like the convulsively shaken tree branches. We both let go of what no longer serves us. And thank God this happens from time to time. What if it didn’t?! The weight of accumulated errors could possibly become just too heavy to bear, especially if we are too cloaked to be able to see the truth clearly enough.

Irma has taught me so much, I could write a small book. I wouldn’t beckon another hurricane to come to Florida. The important thing is that we take everything that comes our way and learn the lessons borne. There are signs and pointers in everything, metaphors for spiritual growth and recognition all along the way.