“My Own” Volcano
Seasonal Message - Rev. John Phalen, CSC
President - Holy Cross Family Ministries
Recently I had the opportunity to go to the Bicol region in the Philippines. There reigning over Legaspi City stands the “Mayon Volcano,” a live volcano that erupts approximately every ten years. I viewed the heavy damage that was done when Mayon erupted last fall just as a typhoon was hitting the shore. Hundreds were killed as entire neighborhoods were covered over by thick lahar mud. Thousands were displaced and are living in temporary relocation centers. Yet the volcano looks very regal and even majestic in its serenity, still smoking from the top as the near perfect cone lords it over the city.
The pronunciation of this volcano’s name sounds just like the phrase “My Own Volcano.” This I find interesting because people do seem to have their own volcanoes. That is to say, there are certain hot-button issues which more often than not set them off when they are pushed. Maybe it is the so-called “pro-choice” movement that sets them off, or the immigration issue so hotly debated today. Sometimes it can be hearing any wise-cracks about one’s mother, or one’s height or weight or appearance. Some are very sensitive about issues of racism or people’s reaction to a disability or infirmity they may have. There are many things which can justifiably make us erupt in reaction. A predictable eruption of a volcano causes less damage, since one can prepare a bit for it.
There are also issues which can make us angry which we have not yet identified for ourselves. We react quickly and “blow our tops” and then wonder why. Of course, it would be helpful for us to identify those issues, perhaps with the help of a good counselor, because we do not want to be reacting drastically to certain issues while not understanding what is at the root of it all.
People tend to proceed with caution when they witness the devastation that can be caused from a volcanic eruption. The same is true about how people react to being around one who does not understand his or her “own volcano.” Absence of reason not withstanding, a person who pops his or her top in fury can reign majestically as others tiptoe around trying not to set off the volcano.
Of course, prayer can help me to recognize “My Own Volcano” and tame it a bit. There’s too much unbridled anger floating around in the world. We need to be people of peace who know how to diffuse our own volcanoes. Maybe the “down time” of this summer season can help in this regard.