Close up, Hurricane Laura was scary. The damage left in her wake was more harrowing still. Like pilings off the Biloxi coast, our cities were pummeled, and in her aftermath, they stood naked. Trees were stripped of leaves, vistas were stripped of landscape and structures, and families were stripped of homes and livelihoods.
Hurricane Laura caused heartache. She left behind emotional waves that run deep. Her rough winds pummeled against our souls as harshly as they pounded our land. Devastation is everywhere. It’s knee deep. Shoulders are damp from absorbing loved ones’ tears, and backs are slick with the sweat of digging through refuse for something to salvage. In many ways, we are standing on a pier, looking at losses that once defined our past. We are in the surge. Close to the place where raging winds and drenching rains hammered against us. We are soggy, soaked through. But we see the horizon. The place where trouble meets hope.
With nothing but a weekend’s worth of clothes, evacuees smile, eyes crinkling above masks thrust upon us by another storm, Covid. In hotels, we exchange muffled hellos, but they are empathetic, genuine. The thread of surviving together winds around us during elevator rides, and our hearts are tied together in the most un-socially distant way. Common loss reminds us that within skin of all shades are similar hurts and the potential to love all neighbors. Family reaches out, offering shelter and encouragement that shrink the miles between us. Friends call, checking on one another, and texts always include the words, “We are so blessed. It could have been worse. We are all alive. My family is safe; that’s what matters.” Resilient. Resolute. The scattered unify, and eyes are lifted off the waves.
In peaceful places where there are electricity and water, where powerlines are strung from upright poles, where storefronts still wear their signs, where houses still have roofs, and where mighty trees remain rooted, the horizon beckons with a melodious voice. “Look away from the waves,” it sings as strangers along the coast say, “We were praying for your city. We’ve experienced devastation before.” It sings as convoy after convoy of energy workers file down the interstate from as far north as Canada. It sings as churches in other towns hold prayer meetings with our city as their focus and preachers address their congregations-not about the blessings coming their way--but about the amazing recovery God is going to give to us.
Before the storm, we were isolated, individual, disconnected. But the storm blew us into a single world, linking us together with its invisible winds. In that unique way that trouble has, the same current that brought ruin clears away the clouds. And there is love. Exposed in all its glory. Love draws our eyes upward. It extends hands to clean, to build, to give, to serve, to encourage, to believe.
We see where sky meets water, and though the water churns at our feet, we see seascapes dappled with sun kisses. We hear the song of seagulls. We feel the peace. We experience love, and we have a perspective full of hope, an expectancy of greater, beautiful things to come.
Tip/Tidbit: Perhaps you did not go through a hurricane, but storms can come in many varieties. Look up today, and draw strength from the beauty that remains.