Friday, 28 January 2011

What to do in an Avalanche

I have a very dear friend who loves me enough not to tell me to chill out, but instead sends me what I need to know:

Try to jump up the slope - it's more than likely that you started the avalanche so you may be very near the top.
Try to move to the side - you may have enough time to get off the slope.
Stay on your feet as long as possible.

Try to grab hold of a sturdy boulder or tree.
Swim WITH it and you may be able to stay near the surface.
Make breathing space - cup your hands in front of your face to create an air pocket. Breathe in and hold which will give enough space for your chest to expand once the snow settles. The small air pocket will last about 30 minutes which may be enough time for rescue.
Stay still and calm which will reduce your oxygen consumption.

It occured to me this morning that my life is full of everyday avalanches: those moment when everything which is so precariously balanced collapses and comes thundering toward me in a crushing slide of overwhelming emotion. Perhaps next time, if I think fast, I will be able to jump up or sideways, quickly change what's happening, crack a joke, offer a hug or ditch a job and avoid the whole thing. Maybe I can stay on my feet and keeping thinking clearly. Maybe I can find something to hang on to, to remember what's going well, to turn my heart to Jesus in prayer, to remind myself that surges of wild emotion pass. Maybe I just need to go with it, to scream or cry or stomp down the road, to stop resisting the surge and just go with it. Maybe I don't need as much as I think, a cup of tea, one Psalm or poem, five minutes in the locked bathroom or a hurried text, might be enough to help me breathe. And maybe I just need to stay still and calm. Even avalanches don't last forever.