Though "frenzied" is the only word I can think of to effectively describe activity on the Upper East Side of Manhattan the first Saturday night after Hurricane Sandy's visit, I suspect that beneath the hyperactivity generated by residents and visitors from neighboring areas was a profound sense of relief from the suspense, uncertainty and fear that in various degrees gripped many of us for most of the past week. Just knowing that light (and TV) were emerging was sufficient cause for gratitude and celebration.
During the storm and in the wake of devastation, safe and secure in my apartment, which blessedly retained its electricity, the WWII anthem "Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer" (Harold Adamson and Jimmie McHugh) entered my consciousness, a reminder of those war-torn days. The analogy was reinforced by a Saturday morning Channel 7 program hosted by charismatic weatherman Sam Champion called "Sea Rescue," focusing on the plight and rehabilitation of wildlife. The subject was a brown pelican whose wings had been punctured by telephone wires; this creature had hung upside down for three days. It was rescued by the fire department, then nursed back to health in an open-air facility where, when well enough to fly, it could just take off and resume its life.
"Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer" echoes the emotions of the many courageous souls whose courage kept them afloat during Sandy's assault of water and wind. I recalled stories of wartime pilots who were guided to safety by angels; even if these claims are anecdotal, they illustrate the undeniable power of the strength of the human spirit and faith in Divine protection to overcome seemingly-insurmountable obstacles.
One of the most powerful prayers of protection in scriptures is Psalm 91. Because of the dire and desperate conditions that prevailed at this time, threatening the very survival of individuals and institutions too broken to fix, here is this psalm in its entirety, taken from the King James translation of the Bible:
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: in Him will I trust.
3 Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust. His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day.
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou has made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set His love upon me, therefore will I deliver Him: I will set Him on high, because He hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer Him: I will be with Him in trouble; I will deliver Him, and honor Him.
16 With long life will I satisfy Him, and show Him my salvation.
There are multitudes on earth today who empathize identify with the plight of that pelican and its forlorn chances for survival. Against all odds, its creator brought it to safety, allowing it to fulfill its divine purpose of catching more fish.
Can you really believe that we are loved less by the Lord?
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