At the personal level we can use our own waves of depression as opportunities for reflection and renewal. If you don't renew yourself after tragedy, you hang onto it and sink. You're like Jonah in the whale. He was told to help renew a dying culture, and he turned in the opposite direction, refusing the opportunity. But he found himself returning in the belly of a whale. Some of us feel as though we are in that dark belly now. Our way out is to keep moving in the direction our vulnerability is taking us: toward pause, reflection, and wisdom.

A hurricane survivor today is in the position of the people of the biblical flood. At the end of Noah's story, a rainbow appears as a sign of new life and safety. With deep feelings of loss, grief, shock, and nostalgia, the survivor can slowly see the tragedy as a passage to new life. Life will never be the same; the person will never be the same. There is an element of hope in this painful realization: the possibility of a richer, more satisfying existence for having gone through such a terrifying initiation.

The vulnerability we all feel today is a door open to a different way of life. We can try to shut out our vulnerability by acting tough, or we can shape it into a softer, more confident way of life.

From tragedy we can take lessons in both vulnerability and strength. We can appreciate how much we depend on each other. We can discover the joy of compassion. We can learn the difference between trying to control everything and sensing an inner strength that allows us to take life on, no matter how great the challenges. We can put our abilities and confidence to work in the service of our fellow citizens instead of only for our own rewards.

Feelings of vulnerability can take you deeper into yourself than you have gone before. There you will sense a new strength: the power to yield confidently and comfortably, your vulnerability transformed into graceful openness.