Four years ago today a tornado ripped through my town and neighboring areas. Ok, true confessions: I didn’t actually remember today being the anniversary until I saw a tweet to that effect. But while I may have forgotten exact dates I have not forgotten the event itself. As I pause to reflect and remember not just the tornado but all that transpired after–the coming together of our community as a community, the ways we served and helped one another, the Lord’s varied grace in its many forms–I repost my thoughts as I wrote them the morning after the tornado hit…
I am sitting on my back porch. The sky is a brilliant blue, a cool breeze blows, all is bright and beautiful. The beauty seems more than a little surreal when I consider that just a few hours ago, I was sitting on the sofa, the battery powered radio in my lap sputtering intermittent storm coverage, the only light being candlelight, sirens blaring in the distance, me holding my breath with every static filled damage update. I slept sporadically; mostly I waited for morning.
A tornado blew through our town last night, leaving in its wake a swath of destruction I have yet to see and can only imagine via the radio reports and the pictures I’ve viewed on Facebook. Talk about surreal. Our street is pristine, untouched, not even a stray stick or limb anywhere. One would never know of the devastation only a few blocks away. Devastation that is rightly called such as it is indeed devastating. Homes, businesses, our schools: the tornado was no respecter of any of them, ripping through them all with disastrous force.
Last night as I worried and fretted in the dark, fearful for my friends and acquaintances, anxious for news of any kind, yet thankful for our own safety–I thought of other nights that stretched long and interminable, nights where I waited and wished for the morning to come and come quickly–nights like when Hurricane Opal hit and we too waited out that storm in the dark, without power, ears glued to the radio for whatever news we could hear over the roar of the wind and the rain. We weren’t nervous, not really, at least not until we could no longer get a local station. Our only contact with the outside world that night–this well before cell phones and the like–was a radio broadcast out of New Orleans. We couldn’t know what destruction had come to us until daylight. I sat on the sofa once the storm had blown through, and in the flickering illumination of candlelight, waited for morning.
I think too of those nights when one of the children was sick, or when the mommy (me) was sick. How I prayed, even begged, for morning! I can’t explain it, maybe it’s just me, but with the sunrise comes the strength to cope. I worry in the dark. I hope in the light.
I pray that same hope for those in my city struggling to cope in the aftermath. Loss and devastation came in the dark of the night; I pray we know the mercies that come new every morning. The mercies of the Lord that are new even this morning. In the midst of all that is broken and destroyed, not to mention during the long and lengthy rebuilding efforts to come, may we find strength in the Light, even as we hope in Him, Christ, our blessed Hope. He is the Light.
First published April, 2010
Today there are few, if any, visible aftereffects to that tornado four years ago. I am still shocked when I travel down certain roads that suffered the most in terms of tree damage but for the most part we have rebuilt and moved on.
I daresay some of us know quite well the desperation I describe of waiting for morning, not a physical morning necessarily, but the desperation of darkness that longs for the Light to shine. Here, now, four years out from that fearful morning, I offer that same hope: Jesus. He is the Light and His mercies are new every morning. Wait on Him. Hope in Him. He is faithful!