Volcanic emotions:What women can learn from Soufriere

by Truly Caribbean Woman

Returning to Montserrat to live with my kids last summer was a practical but also a very emotional decision. It signaled my desire to move forward with my life and really live it to the fullest. There were job opportunities opening up within the fields I enjoyed and I needed to be there to take advantage of them. I haven’t regretted my decision to return and I enjoy and am thankful for each day I am here.

Although my family left Montserrat when I was only five, I returned in 2002 for a short stint. I knew of the activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano and even experienced some of it in 2003, when a major explosion smothered the island in ash. The destruction also created some positives in that many people were able to get work and build businesses from cleaning up the ash and mining it for construction materials.

In October 2009, The Lady as she is called by many, renewed her activity after a ten month silence and over the past four months I have come to see that women are in a lot of ways, experiencing a similar transformation.

God has been showing me the power of timing, cycles and rhythms. If you ever read a volcano activity report from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), you will often see them refer to cycles. The scientists are constantly looking for patterns to be able to understand what The Lady is up to and if an explosion is eminent.

A woman’s body, mind and spirit is established with cycles. Cycles which are necessary to keep our minds and body clean and our spirits clear to receive the love and create the lives we desire for those we care about and also our nations. However, these cycles are interrupted by life’s challenges and the choices that we often make to maintain the status quo, keep peace in our homes, keep our men happy and our children safe and provided for. Cycles remain necessary no matter what the obstacle we face.

Thursday’s explosion at The Lady, was called a partial dome collapse. Basically, there is a large build up of material coming to the surface and it creates a dome effect. Since what goes up must come down, when the dome gets too high, gravity takes over along with the fact that the pressure within the volcano is building and eventually explosions happen. If you have ever baked a cake and stuck a knife or other utensil in it before it is completed, you will see some heat escaping and most often you would end up with a ruined cake. That is pretty much what happens every time The Lady experiences a dome collapse, and a subsequent ash explosion.

The cake example can only go so far, because the ash explosion also has pyroclastic flows. All of the material building up in the volcano has to go somewhere and it comes down the mountain sides as superheated gases with volcanic debris of ash and rocks. Everything within its part is destroyed and in the case of Montserrat, the flows are expanding the island beyond its original 39 square miles.

But it is not normal or healthy to do so for too long and the day comes when the dome of our lives and our emotions come crashing down and we will explode.

We’ve become quite good at rationalizing why we stay in abusive relationships, with men who have other women, why we are okay with being the other women, or choose to live loveless lives. Fear is often the biggest factor for we fear being alone, we fear the talk, we fear having to change our status, we fear never having future opportunities at love.

And so we create boxes. Boxes for the hurt we feel because he didn’t come home last night. Boxes for the words we never say to speak up on our behalf. More boxes for the pain of knowing that you are never honored enough to be chosen as his wife. Even more boxes to permit yourself to be bruised physically and emotionally each day you choose to stay.

The day is coming and it is coming swiftly when whether we are ready or not, the boxes will explode from unresolved pain and unspoken words. The hot superheated emotions, fears, hurts, unfulfilled dreams will burst forth and require attention all at the same time, flowing in every direction.

What will we do then? Who will clean it up?

In the same way the people of Montserrat have always banded together to support each other, so will the women have to do to get beyond the exploded boxes of our lives. We can’t do much to stop Soufriere from living out the natural cycle she is on but we can do something about keeping all of our lives in boxes, that we hide away, that we never go through, that we never throw out.

We will have to accept that we may be forced to clean up without the support of our men but know that God is intent on seeing His women live whole. When we have the courage to do so, our men will have the courage or simply no other choice but to also clean up their exploding boxes because it will have a ripple effect. It would be wonderful if we would choose to clean up and heal together. Without passing blame or pointing pictures but accept that none of us have been acknowledging our own true value, our dreams and giving them the prominence they need to have in our daily lives.

Soufriere continues to surprise us all and we live each day being thankful for living on this beautiful island of Montserrat, understanding that it is a true gift. We are left in awe of nature when you see something that can be so dangerous create such beauty in the clouds, with the sunsets and the creation of more land and more opportunities for growth. We should not fear our own cycles, our own explosions, the feelings, thoughts and dreams we have put in boxes. They can only lead to growth and more opportunities to love when we do.

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