Sitting at home without power, without television, or Internet, people thousands of miles away knew more about what was happening two miles away from me than I did. Frustrated at wanting to know what was happening, I tried to get an old battery operated radio to work. When it quit, I sat in my car to listen to the radio so I could hear something, anything about my town. My community. My life.
Ameren restored power in about 24 hours. (Thank you Ameren workers.) Warmth! The food in the freezer stayed frozen instead of me. Little by little we were able to see pictures on the Internet, get messages to and from family and friends. We heard details first hand.
Through all of the hours, I kept praying for the unknown. Thankful that God was in control. That He knew who needed strength. Who needed comfort. Who needed encouragement. Who needed protection.
It seemed strange that the mail was delivered. Life goes on. I felt guilt that my life was normal on the outside. Inside, a feeling of sadness mixed with compassion, surrounded by concern created an unsettled feeling. Prayer was the only thing that calmed my soul.
Only one person lost his life in this tornado. But, that was one too many. Although it could have been worse, one family is grieving at more than the loss of things. Although I didn’t know Steve, my heart is saddened for his family. I want them to know that we are remembering them in their sorrow even though most of the attention is focused on the clean up.
As I drove through town this morning, the landscape changed. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. It was as if I had entered a small town in another state where I’d never been. I’d seen the pictures, just like the ones from Joplin, Missouri and Moore, Oklahoma. As a friend of mine posted on Facebook: “We are now THAT town.” When you are in the middle of it, when you see it, feel it, smell it, when it’s your hometown, you know life will never be the same. New memories fill your conversations. New emotions settle in your gut. New lessons wait to be learned. You become more aware of your neighbor. You become more thankful for things previously taken for granted. Your faith in God becomes more evident. You become a different person.
Earlier this year I had hand surgery. For a week, my hand was bandaged to twice its normal size. Then the doctor removed the bandage and I saw the incision, the bruising, the dried blood. What a shock!
That’s how I felt this morning as I drove through town. I saw the incision that the tornado had carved through my town. I saw the bruising of lives. Of emotions. Of my friends. But I also saw the healing. I saw people working to stitch up the wounds. People anxious to wipe away the tears, the blood, and fear. People ready to apply healing balm on the scars to make them disappear.
While it will take some time for the scars to fade, I will rejoice over the love and compassion shown to our town. I will weep with those who are suffering. And I will praise God for opportunities to serve.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7
Many have been working tirelessly to clean up and salvage what they can. Please pray for those who have been so busy with the practical details needing to be accomplished that they have not had time to grieve. Please pray for them as realization of what has happened sinks in and their tears begin.