Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gratitude After The Hurricane

God's Pool before the storm (c) Photo Christine Matthäi

by Grand Bahama author Marina Gottlieb Sarles  (8.28.2011)

Hurricane Irene has come and gone. I am happy to report that we sustained little damage here on Grand Bahama. Our cottage in Abaco was also unscathed even though the winds pounded that island. So, I am sitting in deep gratitude this Sunday morning, drinking my home-brewed coffee frothed with warm organic milk - a delicious luxury that comes with the gift of electricity. After two days of unbearable heat (90 degrees inside the house), the air around me is finally cool thanks to a fabulous, functioning air-conditioner. I feel blessed, really I do.

As Irene swept her way across the Bahamas and I listened to all the reports of approaching doom, my thoughts ran to my parents and grandparents, to the characters in my novel The Last Daughter of Prussia and what they must have felt during World War 2. At least with a hurricane you know it's coming and when it has thrashed you about, it will leave. Furthermore, however disastrous it may be, a hurricane is still an act of nature and it has a good reason for being – namely to clear the earth of excess heat. But war lasts for years and bombs can fall at any time. Moreover, war is created by the minds of men who consciously and systematically plan the decimation of whole groups of people, cities, countries.

I thought about evacuation. In hurricanes people often have to leave their homes, make choices as to what they'll take with them. Valuables. Documents. Photographs. What a process - this choosing of most cherished objects, this deciding on the order of value – a revelation I think in letting go and also knowing what is really needed and revered. I wondered what my grandparents took with them when they evacuated their home in East Prussia. I know of a few things because I have them : a piece of amber, a small bronze fish sculpted by my grandmother, a photograph of their home. However, their reason for leaving was not brought on by a natural storm. Instead, they faced the thundering guns of the invading Russian Army.

As Irene stirred up the air around me I felt like she was also stirring up humanity's consciousness, her winds trying to break the bonds of ignorant thinking, the dangerous idea that we are all separate – beliefs that ultimately cause wars.



With everyone from the southern Bahamas along the eastern coast of the United States worried about their well-being, I wondered if perhaps we could simply care – just for a moment – about each other.  I thought if we could all do that even for a minute or an hour, what a clean-swept, shiny, energized world this would be.

On a Grand Bahama Island windswept beach ... Marina & James Sarles (c) Photo Christine Matthäi

Marina Gottlieb Sarles is the author of Sand In My Shoes: A Collection of Island Stories, and a soon-to-be-released new novel, The Last Daughter of Prussia, which she blogs about here. Marina is married to James Sarles, President of Coldwell Banker/James Sarles Realty in Grand Bahama—the beautiful island where they make their home, together with their son, Nikolai. 

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