Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Rainbows, and the wisdom of the Stoics...
Another Hebridean storm has been raging, all day, here on the Isle of Skye. Seems like forever. We went out for a walk after lunch, just to work off some energy…but the horizontal rain, sleet, and gusts in excess of 50 mph, made it a very short one. I resigned to catching up on some reading: Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, the wisdom of ancient Stoics, it is simply marvellous. Lost in the pages, I suddenly realized that something extraordinary was happening outside. The wind abated, and skies were rapidly clearing, revealing a burning bright late-afternoon sun. A magnificent rainbow began to form, one end illuminating Kyle of Lochalsh, across the water, and the other, the ruins of 15th century Castle Maol, right outside the window.
As we watched, completely spellbound, the words that came to mind were, “this too shall pass”. The worst of the storm had passed. And it always does. I know so many people who are struggling, some with very difficult issues. The fact is, life is rarely easy. We all have struggles, and they can be overwhelming at times.
The Stoics wisely remind us that much of what happens to us is beyond our control. We can control only how we respond. Understanding that profoundly important fact makes ALL the difference. Epictetus said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” The more contemporary Serenity Prayer gently underlines that same strategy, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
The height of the Highland storm passed, replaced by an exquisite rainbow. I must keep that image close to heart and mind. It is an image that calms…and strengthens.