From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
September 12, 2017

Our hearts go out to our friends and others suffering from hurricanes Irma and Harvey. I am grateful to the many people who are contributing to funds, such as the General Church fund at General Church Outreach (, or finding other ways to help.

The news has been referring to Hurricane Irma as a “heartless storm.” Perhaps more than anything else, natural disasters illustrate the difference between natural and spiritual things. It amounts to the fact that nature is heartless, it has no mercy, whereas spiritual life is all about mercy. This is taught in Divine Love and Wisdom this way:

                “The substances of the natural world by their very nature react against the substances of the spiritual world.” Divine Love and Wisdom 260

That is, the physical things of this world obey physical laws, and make no distinction between causing harm or benefit. By contrast, spirituality reacts against this aspect of the physical world, wanting to direct physical forces away from harm and towards benefits. This is mercy.

To grasp this difference, imagine storms that actually were merciful, moving away from population centers, and never causing damage that might be harmful to living things. Better yet, no storms ever, or any other natural events that might be harmful. As wonderful as this might be, it would also mean an absence of consistent physical laws.

This is exactly the way that the spiritual world is organized. It is run on the basis of spiritual laws, not physical laws, so its fabric is love, and it obeys love’s laws. In that world, no good person is ever impacted by hurricanes or any other kind of storm.

But a world like that is not one that promotes the basic free choices between good and evil, since it depends on these choices having already been made and promotes a much deeper freedom. But in this physical world love can freely develop, and choices can be made, against the contrasting background of a stable and constant physical world governed by physical laws.

So the Lord permits storms to happen, and works to bring goodness out of tragedy. The storm is heartless, but we are not, and the Lord is not. The heartbreaking misery and suffering of this tragedy is a time when we need to reach out to other people and call on the Lord’s mercy.

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