Few, if any, long-lasting relationships experience no turbulence. Whether the relationship is romantic, friendship, job-related, or political, sooner or later friction is bound to happen.
I imagine a relationship as a structure lodged on the ground; a house, a hut, a water-tower, or a bridge. How well will it sustain a passing storm depends on multiple factors, as well as the type of force of nature it is facing. How deep are its foundations? How tall is the structure? What materials were used to construct it? Stone, wood, or Sheetrock? How well was it put together, and so on and so forth.
A mild storm may have but little effect on a weak structure built with poor foundations. However, even a well-assembled house may be challenged by a category-five hurricane.
Nature carries many parallels to human life and its variety of relationships. A new friendship is less likely to survive a small breach of trust that a twenty-year friendship may hardly be affected by.
The Afro-Brazilian tradition of Umbanda, derived from ancient African religions, realized this long ago. Within Umbanda, as with those other African religions, are the Orixas; forces of nature, represented as deities. Of these, Iansa is the goddess of the winds, lightning, and violent storms. Together with Ogum, she rules the line of Law. When things go out of control in our lives, a storm will shake us so that we may come back to our center. It is Iansa at work.
It occurred to me that the ‘relationship storms’ we experience, are fed by us. Meteorologists talk about a low pressure system. It is a large mass of air that rises due to warmer land or water underneath it. The air becomes hot and starts to expand. In this metaphor, the warm land or water may be our emotions kept unchecked. The air is just air, but when it gains momentum due to the circumstances, it starts to move and shift, and if it continues to be fed, a major storm may develop.
A typical friction in a relationship has a starting point: an inappropriate, or a misunderstood comment being made by a party to the relationship, an action of mistrust, a tweet by a public influencer. These can go unnoticed and nothing will happen. The storm will die before it was even born. Or, it can create a heated environment, ripe for a storm to grow and flourish. It’s just air, which, all by itself, is quite harmless. But when a storm ignites, the more we blow into it, the greater its power, the harsher it’s destructive force.
When I face a storm I ask myself as to the meaning of its eruption. What is Iansa here to teach me? Why did I call it into my life? What is not working in my world as it relates to my life’s purpose. What areas in my way of living need a shakeup?
A storm may be destructive, but it plays an important role in removing old patterns that no longer serve me. It is so I may grow further and develop into what I am to be.
I cannot honestly say that I eagerly await a storm. Yet when these show up in my life, I know it’s there for a reason. If I don’t pay attention, or if I fight and resist the storm, rather than learn from it, the experience it is here to teach me will return time and again in various forms until the lesson is taken to heart. Sometimes all I need is patience, patience and understanding. Other times I need to take action. Either way, a storm, as challenging as it may be, is a wonderful opportunity to study myself deeper.
“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching