Monday, June 2, 2008

Tragedy = Community?

Note: Anna Nalick is on in the background and it is awesome.

Can you believe that it is June already? I have come to the realization today that I leave for another Continent for more than two months in less than one week. I am not going to lie I am starting to get a little freaked out. The closer we get to leaving the more details we are finding out about where we will be, for instance John and I are going to Sudan with Manute Bol, yeah its pretty crazy.

Anyway, today was a weird day. Today was not a good day for me. Today the weather was bad. I mean it was typical spring weather for Kansas; hail in the morning, stormy in the mid day, then eerily calm in the afternoon, and gorgeous in the evening. -- Today was the first time since the 03 storm that I was genuinely worried, maybe even terrified, of a tornado. Not that this day was even anything like that one but I just didnt have a good feeling about it.

For those of you who don't remember or don't know, about 5 years ago there was a tornado in KCK that did hellacious damage. I can remember every detail of that day with extreme clarity. I remember that it was a Saturday I was hiding in a shower after baseball practice when it hit and then coming out into the eerie calm and then soon being hit with the realization that most of my friends homes had been totally destroyed. That day doesn't set well with me. That summer doesn't set well with me. That summer I spent almost every waking moment either working or helping to rebuild, clear, clean up, remove, you name it and we did it to the aftermath.

I can remember from that afternoon four things with HD quality clarity. 1) Pulling up toward the woodlands race track and looking out towards Wyandotte County lake and the trees that had surrounded it, the nature that was the sole remaining serenity in the county being completely jaded. The life of the forest had been plowed over. And it wasn't that it was all gone, no you could see where the force had taken its path. That path in my mind was the closest to Satan's footsteps that I have ever seen. 2) Standing on a light power pole, broken off at the ground, that was at least 4ft in diameter (no joke) to try to see through the wreckage if my best friend still had a house at the bottom of the hill... his home was the only house in the entire neighborhood that was untouched. At that point in my life that was the closest to God's hand that I had ever witnessed. 3) Standing on 84th street and looking back down the hill where a large neighborhood and wooded area had been and seeing nothing... absolutely nothing! Not wreckage of where things had been but rather nothing. No tree stumps just holes in the ground where the trees had been. No houses just basements where houses used to sit. Then I remember looking to the east over the hill towards the highway that ran along Wolcott and finding all of those trees, all of those houses, all of those front yards, trampolines, swimming pools, cars, animals, at least one half of a mile away. 4) Sitting on a chair in the attic of one my childhood friends home looking out over the carnage (because the roof was missing) and wondering out loud with the group of the other distraught 17 year olds what in the heck had just happened. Hearts completely frozen. Knowing that the five of us sitting in that circle were not going to be sleeping much this summer... at least until everything was back to normal.

There are other things I remember from that day as well. Mainly that it was chaos, people were, simply put, overwhelmed. I remember that every home depot within, it must have been, 500 miles dropped off what seemed to be everything in their store to help assist. Red cross was there in what, at the time, seemed to be instantly and the national guard can cut down some trees in a hurry.

Looking back though that was probably the closest feeling that I had ever had to living in a community. There were so many people that were so confused and distraught but at the same time so worried about their neighbor. Its funny how a tragedy is what brings us together. How tragedy is what it takes for us to love our neighbor.

Is that what it should take for us? Galatians 5:14 states that the greatest command of all is to love our neighbors as ourselves. But does it take an F5 before we decide that the 90 year old woman, or the single mom, or the happy family with 3 kids next door really matters? What can I do in my day to make sure that I am living as I have been commanded to? Don't let it take a national disaster to love on someone. When we don't love we miss out on life. If we don't help out or show interest in one another think how much of our surrounding we are missing out on. We cant live in a community let alone "community" if we are not communal, if we aren't willing to invest even the least bit in the people around us.

Yeah, today was uncomfortable; the thought of pandemonium, and pain, and struggle, and shear fear ran through my mind consistently. But looking back at how this community came together and how we have moved forward, and in many ways progressed since then makes that discomfort worth it.

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