The ferocious strength of Hurricane Sandy was yet another reminder of the immense power of nature and the sobering fact we are not above her. We are part of nature and must understand our role in the cosmos. Our ancestors had deep reverence for these forces of nature that we call the orisas; our spiritual beliefs and practices revolve around them.

“We do not start from the premise that we are higher than the rest of creation,” says Yoruba scholar, Wande Abimbola. “We bow down to trees, rivers, hills and mountains.” Truly, birds, animals, trees, and the dwellers of the sea are not only siblings but our teachers and spiritual guides as well.”

And in the sacred odu, Osa meji, Ifa says: “Osa, the brightly shining one, Babalawo of the world, interpreted the teachings of Ifa for the earth. They said that the earth should stop making sacrifices for wealth, and instead make sacrifices that would protect earth from its enemies. In this way, we will live. And so we plead that as long as we live on earth, that the earth not be destroyed.”

The earth-centered, spiritual teachings of Africa have been ridiculed and dismissed by the West for centuries as being simplistic and out-of-step with the realities and demands of our technologically-driven world. Hurricane Sandy (like Hurricane Katrina) is a rebellion against such arrogance. She’s the latest messenger that has come to warn us that the price of global warming is high.

“Sandy Ends The Silence” says the title of a November 2012 Time Magazine article written by Michael Grunwald. “Hurricane Sandy – like this year’s historical heat waves, droughts and wildfires in the U.S., not to mention an uprecedented ice melt in the Artic – is the kind of thing that happens when you broil the planet with fossil fuels,” writes Grunwald.

“Sandy was a blunt reminder that the technical term for people affected by climate change is people. It’s an environmental issue, a security issue, an economic issue that has all kinds of disastrous implications for coastal communities and food supplies and wildlife and human life,” Grunwald adds.

The cost of Hurricane Sandy is at least 50 billion in New York alone. As the nation rallies to rebuild the communities that were affected by Sandy, I can’t help but think of a comment my Mom in the Virgin Islands often makes: “Son, we have to get back to the basics.”