A bad storm like Sandy keeps coming long after it stops. We're left with the wreckage and the clean up and the ghastly feeling, and all the while trying to hold onto hope. I've always had a bone to pick with Emily Dickinson who said, "Hope is the thing with feathers…" I suppose some hope can be blown away by the least little breeze, but hope, real hope, the kind you need in a storm, needs to be made of steel.
That's what makes steel, all of those ingredients either extracted, crushed, purified, or melted down: Iron ore is found in mines, coke is made from crushed and washed coal, flux is a term for the minerals used to collect impurities during the making of steel and iron, molten iron is all about turning up the heat in a blast furnace.
The strength we need is like iron ore — we have to go into dark places to find it sometimes. Grief is like coke, crushing us for a while and then using that crushed part in new ways. I think hope is a lot like flux, it helps collect impurities, it helps us go through the tough process, and it aids us in growing stronger. Tough times are like molten iron, melting us down in the heat of challenge. But together, this process makes steel, one of the strongest compounds in the world.
It's been said that the greatest strengths grow out of weakness, the greatest trees have weathered the biggest storms and their roots have gone deep. To find strength in the midst of trial is a gift. Here are words of strength given to a granddaughter by her grandfather, words he wrote after a tornado leveled his home, words she carried around with her during the worst time in her life. This is from my newest novel, Almost Home.
When you don't think you can keep going,
You might be right,
But just in case you're wrong,
When you're flat out and don't know what to do,
It might be a while before you know,
But don't give up,
If your feet are sore,
If you hear a roar,
When the worst that can happen has come and gone
And you're still standing,
Remember that you won.