Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The afternoon of May 22nd found me napping. This is strange, as I am not a napper. It was the day after our middle son's incredible wedding and I was exhausted, but grateful for such a wonderful family and for my beautiful, amazing, new daughter-in-law. My head was just getting comfy on the pillow when my youngest called from a friend's house. He was frantic. "Mom! There's been a tornado spotted north of town, are the sirens going off?" Being a native Kansan, I sleepily slurred, "Oh, buddy, it's Kansas in May. I haven't heard anything, so don't worry about it." My husband walked into the bedroom and I handed him the phone. As soon as he said, "Hey, bud!" the sirens went off. Still, we didn't get too freaked-out. It gives me chills to think of this now, but my husband and oldest actually hopped into the car and headed out to storm chase. Even more chilling, I had just received a text that good friends from Seattle- in for the wedding - had made it to their destination of Springfield, Missouri to visit some other friends. They had passed through Joplin a mere hour before.
My middle brother was soon calling, imploring me to turn on the news. He's awesome, but I thought he was caught up in storm fever and after I hung up with him, I avoided TV and radio and simply went and sat on my front porch. It turns out my brother wasn't caught up at all.
I don't have to go back and detail the events of that day any further. Most of America and many parts of the world now know of the devestation that hit Joplin, Missouri...45 minutes from my childhood and current home...favorite place to shop as a teen ("Let's go shoplin in Joplin!")...current and sadly, now former home to many friends and loved ones. What I did see on TV later that same day was shocking. My husband, our oldest and a few others headed straight over to help with the immediate aftermath. When my husband got back from Joplin at four in the morning he said, "I haven't seen anything like this since we took a team to Ground Zero right after 9/11." I knew it was bad, but had no concept of how bad.
I drove down Rangeline the Friday after and cried as I tried to keep the car on the road. I had to be told where the Home Depot - one we had frequented - used to stand. Unrecognizable. I wept as I thought of the orange trimmed structure that then-missing, and now confirmed with Jesus, cousins of one of my son's friends had been when the tornado hit. Believe me, the tears were flowing and I had seen just a fraction.
On Memorial Day, I was honored to travel with many church friends, my husband and two of my sons to Joplin to help with the clean-up. Everyone in this part of the world has a Joplin story it seems, as Midwestern folk are typically caring servants, rolling up their sleeves to help others in need. I'm thinking that my story isn't different from most of theirs. The inital shock of seeing block upon block completely wiped out. The almost numb feeling as you ask those around you, "Where on earth do we begin?" The compassion as you help an elderly woman try to dig through rubble to rescue something...anything. I found birthday pictures in streets...clothes in trees...a suitcase (in what used to be a garage) holding memories of someone's 1971 wedding day. I found pieces of lives...parts of homes...fragments of hearts.
You can't walk away from destroyed structures, or in these economically depressed times, lost or foreclosed dwellings, without really thinking about the word "home."
I am no preacher. I am not a great theologian. I am just a girl with a Bible...and a God.
"Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations." Psalm 90:1
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" Psalm 91:1-2
It is so hard to remember that this world and the structures within it will all someday be gone.
It is so hard to remember that this is our temporary home...until we see how quickly it can be destroyed.
I pray for the families who have lost so much and will continue to be a part of whatever I can to serve them. And I also pray that we will all find refuge in so much more than a basement. I pray that we all may find solace in knowing that while fortified walls can give way...God never can.
I pray that for the rest of my temporal life that I will remember this...
it's not what we dwell in...it's Who we dwell in.