Everywhere the heaviness of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina surrounds us. I continue to pause in slack-jawed wonder at how in the hell any of this can be resolved. It all seems so big, so overwhelming, so tragic. I sat for hours on Thursday afternoon watching CNN and MSNBC and felt helpless and alone. I went to bed that night wondering why this world was going to hell in a handbasket...wondering why the poor are always neglected...wondering whether there was a good God. I woke up Friday morning in a sweat, literally panicked at the state of humanity ("Here I am, making it all about me," I chastised myself).
When I arrived at work, sullen after a car ride spent listening to NPR, I plopped down in my chair in my little corner cubicle and Michael, our local grief coordinator guru, asked how I was doing...a standard morning greeting. I swung around in my swivel chair and said, "well, Michael, not good. That's how I'm doing. I am heart sick for these people in the south. I am angry at the government. And on top of it I don't know where God is in this mess." I thought Michael might be surprised, as usually my standard response is, "good, and you?"
It is a sign of the grace of God that I was not smote in that instant and was intead given a wise messenger who heard me in my wonderings.
Michael nodded and then said softly (I think grief therapists always speak softly), "I've felt that heaviness too. This morning in my hike up Reservoir Hill I watched the sun rise and prayed that I might feel God's peace so that I could embody that sense of peace and presence to others."
This time my slack-jawed look of wonder was one of awe (in my head I thought, "Holy cow, this Michael is the shit! Why isn't he the chaplain?" But, I tried to act cool....). While I lament that there is little I can do from Fort Wayne, Indiana (apart from pulling out my credit card and donating to the Red Cross), I recognize that I can cultivate that sense of God's peace which reminds me to be still and know that God is a good God who embraces all who suffer.
After work I stopped at Fox Island Park for an hour or so and sat under a pine tree seeking that peace. It's coming. Slowly.
May we all hold the survivors and victims of this hurricane in our hearts.
And may God grant us the peace to be God's hands and feet in the midst of this disaster.