Tuesday, September 2, 2008

MORE ABOUT HURRICANES

While watching television reports about Hurricane Gustav yesterday, I sent up many prayer arrows about the storm. I also searched in The Gospel of Matthew for the story about Christ stilling the storm and found the passage (Matthew 8:26): “And he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a dead calm.” That passage became a mantra I said to myself throughout the day. In late afternoon, my daughter in New Iberia called to say that the eye of Gustav had passed through, she was alive and well, and my home there was intact.

According to a book entitled THE GOSPELS TODAY by Stephan Need, the passage in Matthew I used as a mantra wasn’t about Christ showing off by breaking the laws of nature – it was the story of a work of mighty power, about Christ bringing order out of chaos and nurturing discipleship in those who believe. I’ve been a Louisiana resident most of my life and confess that a hurricane will make a believer of anyone! Several years ago, when Hurricane Lily threatened New Iberia and forecasters predicted it would come ashore in Louisiana as a Category 5 hurricane, many prayers went up throughout the State. Through some mysterious stilling of the waters, the storm arrived at the Louisiana coastline as an almost cordial wind. “There wouldn’t have been enough body bags to carry out those killed had Lily maintained strength,” the former mayor of New Iberia declared at that time. Many believe that the clacking of Rosary beads (south Louisiana is predominantly Roman Catholic) kept the gusts and water from inundating Cajun Country.

On a lighter note, some Louisiana hurricanes have spawned strange things; e.g., a weird sea creature that appeared in 1856. This creature was reported to be a monster that showed up at the mouth of the Lafourche River following the famous hurricane at Last Island (about which I wrote in a former blog). The creature, then labeled a devil fish, was 14 ft. long from nose to tail, the tail was 6 ft. long, and width of the back measured 20 ft. The thickness from top of back to belly measured 7 ft., and the wide mouth was 3 ft., 6 in., with horns on its head 3 ft. long. The monster had its mouth wide open, scooping up fish, and was shot in the head by Mr. Martial Oregon. It sank to the bottom of the river, but Oregon brought it up and towed it to shore. However, another storm arose, and Oregon fled to safety, leaving the carcass behind. It is said that the liver of the monster was the size of a rice cask, and its skin resembled the hide of an elephant. The account didn’t reveal what happened to the carcass!

According to two ULL professors, the creature had been transported by a hurricane to the Lafourche River, and they surmised it was a giant devil ray; however, it could have been a West Indian manatee (sea cow). Unfortunately, no one has ever determined the true identity of what is known as Louisiana’s first sea monster. As I said, hurricanes cause strange things to emerge, and this is one sighting that has baffled Louisiana marine biologists and historians.

Sea monsters aside, on this day following the onslaught of Hurricane Gustav, we rejoice with the author of Psalm 89:9: “Thou dost rule the raging of the sea; and when its waves rise, thou stillest them.”
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