Skip to content

COLUMN: Tornado reminds us life can change in the blink of an eye

In her latest column, Cynthia Breadner discusses just how quickly life can come at you and what the journey through chaos and grief can teach us
flower for cynthia column
In those difficult, changing moments, may you find hope and peace.

“The surest way to lose your soul is to believe in something that is external to yourself.”
Carl Jung

“In the blink of an eye life happens and in the blink of an eye is where God lives.”
Cynthia Breadner

Each day and each week I continue to look for the lessons. Every Sunday when I scribe these words and put them tangible, touchable is when I assess the lessons and wonder are they valuable enough to share with others? Will they cause pondering and awareness in another’s soul? All I can do is hope they will. I ask every day, “what is it I am to learn from this day?”

While you may choose readings for entertainment, it often is there we learn our most valuable lessons.

When I was presenting weekly pondering from the pulpit of many Christian churches, I seemed to use the same process that I do for writing this column. There were times I wrote a message in my head and on my heart as I drove toward the church for the service on Sunday morning.

It is the fertile ground of this choice to be in the moment and let life unfold with little ego intervention where I find great peace and light. That is scary for most people.

In the work I do, I spend time with people who often are unable to plan or filter their thoughts and actions; going with their flow is absolutely necessary if I am to spend time with them. In the blink of an eye, unless I am watching very carefully, I could miss something important.

The greatest learning when living this way is how one is always aware of how life can change in the blink of an eye. This truth is our stark reminder not to get too attached to anything because true living comes from chaos. In the beginning, we read, the Divine made order out of chaos and so we live through chaos looking for order. In that chaos is perfect order.

The tornado in Barrie on Thursday afternoon is one of the places where this is true. People opened the basement door, descended the stairs and upon coming back up 15 minutes later everything they knew had been blown away!

Like Dorothy, life now must be picked up, to begin a new journey, traveling with changed thought, heart and courage. “Stuff” has been blown away. The chaff has been removed and what matters, each other, is left to pick up the pieces.

I watched life pass before my own eyes at Bathurst and Yonge this same day. The light was very green as I approached, so green the walk signal had numbers counting down so I proceeded only to watch in slow motion as a very large, slow moving dump truck turned in front of me.

As I made order out of chaos, I managed to escape peril. I was close enough to see the driver who was completely oblivious I was there. They did not even see me. This was not about him it, was all about me.

Once through the light and escaping tragedy, I considered pulling over to gather my thoughts and to check my heart and my underwear! As I continued along my journey I realized I was feeling strong enough to continue and counted my blessings and thanked my awareness because it saved me.

Third this week, Gramma was asked to keep the baby busy while mama prepared dinner. We were playing on the sofa and as smart as he is, he knows the remotes are all kept lined up on the back of the sofa.

So like lightning, as soon as he was on my lap he scampered across, over the pillows, the blanket and stood at the back of the sofa looking for the adult toys. This smart little cookie knows the old, battered-up, battery-void one that is given to him is not the sacred toy that the adults hanker for.

Jumping on his wee feet and grabbing them he quickly points them toward the screen. Taking them away, Gramma diverts his attention. He stands on the soft couch reaching for thin air. Gramma is not quick enough and baby steps to the edge and falls doing a face-first somersault on his head and all I could do was watch in horror!

Honestly, I thought he had broken his neck. I stopped time and waited for him to cry and move his arms and legs before touching him. Going against everything I have been taught in first aid training, I wanted him to wiggle his fingers, toes, arms, and legs. Show me you are okay!

The shock registered on his face, and he began to cry rolling over to all fours and paused. This is when he began to wail! I picked him up, mommy came from the kitchen, he reached out, and I swear he said, “get me away from this woman, she’s dangerous!” Then promptly, looked back from mommy’s arms and smiled from ear to ear.

This fall, like the dump truck, haunted my thoughts for hours afterward. This is trauma or a form of PTSD, when we relive the event over and over in our minds. A loop we cannot break.

One minute life is one way and the next it is different.

During life’s events we change, our spirit is taught truth that is sometimes hard to swallow. During the chaos, is when the most valuable lessons are learned. These lessons, I learn consistently, are to always live in the moment before the changing one.

I watched Isaac’s fall in detail because I was right there, with my eyes on him, and still was unable to stop the fall. I could see the dump truck and could only watch and react as best I could.

The people in the tornado could only stare in awe and trauma at the damage while absorbing the catastrophic change to their lives.

Something in the fall, the wind, and the truck is telling us to be prepared for what life hands you, and know it is just as it will be. Fate is not in charge, change is in charge. It is the journey life follows, and our desire to control everything is the opposite of change making life more difficult.

While it may be hurtful, joy filled and scary, all at the same time, it is our job to realize life in all its glory!

Journeying through chaos and grief, finding the joy is what brings meaning to life. Challenge is what makes life valuable and the more we embrace challenge the deeper and more fulfilling life can be.

What challenges do we put in our own way and what challenges like the truck, the wind, and the fall are completely out of anyone’s control?

May you find hope and peace in the changing moments of your life, embrace, and keep it close whether it is in grief or joy. It is in these moments we love the deepest and are most grateful…in the “almosts” of our day!

Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker and offers specialized care in Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy with special attention as a cognitive behavioural therapy practitioner and trauma incident resolution facilitator. She volunteers at hospice, works as a LTC chaplain and is a death doula, assisting with end-of-life care for client and family.  She is the mother part of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. She is available remotely by safe and secure video connections, if you have any questions contact her today!

Cynthia Breadner

About the Author: Cynthia Breadner

Writer Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker providing one-on-one support at
Read more