Tragedies come. They come in the form of accidents. They come in the form of violence. Tragedies come. The come in the form of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes.
Tragedies have power. Their power of disruption, death, and destruction comes as
no surprise. Tragedies have a surprising power. The surprising power of tragedies are their ability to re-establish the concept of community in people.
Seven days ago, on Wednesday, April 27 the Southeastern states experienced an epic, generational outbreak of violent straight-line winds, violent thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Add to that the flooding that is occurring on the Missouri, Ohio, Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries and you have tragedy after tragedy. In our corner, EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes and strong straight-line winds cause severe damage to communities and entire towns in my county and in surrounding counties. The damage and death toll is mind-boggling. If you can survey the damage and not feel for the victims there is something wrong with you.
In the midst of the fields of debris a common bond formed. Most know someone who lost something, or more tragically, someone. In our small county where nearly 25 people died along with the destruction of a town it is hard not to have a connection. What happened (and happens) is a testimony to the human spirit – the spirit I believe God breathed into His creation. We pull together! We help gather belongings, we hold hands, we cry and allow others to cry on us. We recover together, we bring supplies, we bring food, water, and generators. We patiently wait in line for gasoline, bread, and milk. We carry heavy furniture and in one case my son helped move an antique cast iron, claw-foot tub down stairs to the porch of a destroyed historic home.
There are blessings even in storms. If we will look. If we will listen. If we will pay attention. People are talking to each other, even strangers. People are showing kindness to those of different ethnicities. Can we keep this spirit? Can we hang on to the love? Will we hold fast to this spirit of community?