Zeta in the Woods

great storm of 2020

But he that shall hear me, shall rest without terror, and shall enjoy abundance, without fear of evils.

Proverbs 1:33

I often wonder what St. John of the Cross’s weblog would have looked like had he had one. It is to his everlasting thanks, no doubt, that he was spared the ignominy of having the internet around in his day. It’s uncharted territory, though, for the most part. Realistically, in the 2000 years of the Church, how many priests have had weblogs?

As to this effort, I think we can all agree that this is in no way shape, or form intended to be an award-winning, trend-setting, website. As more people read it, clearly it will have to evolve into something of less ignominy. In the end, it started as a journal for a few friends, and it’s still that overall.

Life is Good

That being said, too, it’s difficult to get the good sisters down out here in the forest. Easy to get some trees down, but even that was a task for Zeta as it blew through. The hours of rain were perfect to sit around reading. The winds were alarming after a while, then stopped so abruptly I thought we must be in the eye – come to find out, we were. I’ll always remember Zeta as being in the eye of the storm; as if I’ve survived some deep personal trauma that few can understand. Sustained hurricane-force winds are never pleasant though, and at least they didn’t last 12 hours.

The sisters are a delight to spend time with. Sr. Mary Claire on the left has the exact same expression I would have if someone were taking my picture the morning after a late-season hurricane during cleanup efforts, while I was still working on getting a decent cup of coffee going. And Sr. Charista on the right is warding off the chill of the early fall (we’re in the deep south, so yes it’s an early fall chill being late October,) whilst perusing the fallout. It’s not that bad overall.

Sometimes it’s all about the Trees

The trees that get bent over in storms stay this way until you straighten them out with a tractor, or some such. It’s not difficult, it’s just a matter of getting to it with everything else that needs to be done. And if you don’t have a tractor, there’s still ropes, bodyweight, cars – gotta be resourceful. The leaves all over the place, the small limbs, the shingles, tiles, fence boards, etc – it takes time getting to everything.

Pine trees don’t usually bend like this. What they usually do is snap in two as they’re very brittle. During Gustav, I was gazing out upon a bank of pines when suddenly one snapped and fell to the ground. All the images one ever sees of trees gracefully being pushed over by the wind, or falling to the ground in a well-cushioned fall, parachuting down by its leafy canopy, go right out the window when you watch a pine tree fall.

What actually happens with pines is that they snap around the middle then plummet to he ground as quickly as if you dropped a cup of hot coffee near the stove. (Not that you would ever do that, dear reader, but still it would fall that quickly and alarmingly.)

How long, O Lord, how long?

How long will we be without power? How long will 2020 last? What would St. John of the Cross’s weblog have looked like had he had one? What will I do with this website once I’ve learned everything I can learn from it and finally moved on? When will you deal a crushing blow to my enemies and scatter them over the face of the earth? When at last will I see you face to face, leaving behind my own mortal wounds and dwelling solely upon your great, magnificent, majesty and grace?

Hurricane Zeta was a breeze, admittedly a very strong and sustained one. It will take a while to clean up – but that’s a storm for you.

Prayers for all those deeply affected.


The Rev. Kenneth Allen