I’m writing from the “other side”.
When time warped, standing still and frozen and crumbled into the thousands of icy limbs and branches littering our town. Even with the warning, nobody was truly prepared for the damage to come. It’s been quite a mess.
A few took us up on our offer for food, warmth and shelter during our 4 days “off the grid”–far fewer than I’d anticipated. Largely due to the widespread difficulty and how our community came together sharing what they had, spreading the burden– and the joy all around.
Only a fool can go through something like this and come out the other side unchanged. I can testify, I am strangely changed and newly aware.
In some ways and things I had prayed for and others — I didn’t anticipate.
For starters; my calling to see and serve others has been deepened and revitalized. Serving truly energizes me and it brought me great joy to roll up my sleeves with my husband and son and just do whatever needed to be done. Our neighbors have always thought we are weird and now maybe we’ll have more chances to share *why*!
Second, before this event if you’d asked if I was an extrovert, I might have answered yes. However, I’ve discovered that my ability to serve sweetly greatly diminishes after 48 hours…which was only two days into the gig. Thereabouts, as the trees were beginning to thaw, my personality was getting icier, indicating that I was rapidly wearing thin and needed to regroup. I nearly voted myself off the island! It was a good test. For the future I know I must make and take a break–for my own health and safety and truly for the sake of kindly serving others!
Third: I like our neighbors and I think they like us too. The problem is we don’t know one another. We’re too dang busy, distracted and otherwise disconnected. The real “power” of true community has been off in our lives for a while and somehow, we’ve forgotten we’re all more than a “Face” on Facebook. I’ve been lamenting this for awhile–praying about how to reach out and in.
It was terrific to break bread and a sweat working side by side with folks who only last week, barely slowed down to wave as they drove by, nevermind stop and speak. Now, there’s a common space between us filled with shared experience. There’s ground to build on with some folks who couldn’t or wouldn’t be bothered with us in the eleven years we’ve lived here. Others are so new and gladly keep to themselves.
I found out the girl across the street is expecting in May; her husband is so proud. The fella next door is struggling with depression since the death of his Dad and the gal across from there has a father in the early stages of dementia. Her husband grills a mean ham and they love their kids! On the other end, those folks are willing to share not only their hot shower, but she’ll also share her edible Valentine bouquet of heart-shaped pineapple and chocolate dipped strawberries!
Now… hopefully, they all know we care.
Fourth, appearances can be deceiving. All around town and on every street, time-honored trees and structures, which looked sturdy and strong from the outside, were broken down or brought low by this storm. The same is true for our citizens.
This storm was truly no respecter of persons as the crisis became the great equalizer of all men. It didn’t matter how much or how little you had as the most basic needs of food, shelter, warmth and a hot shower, became priceless commodities. Suddenly, the one with a manual can opener became valuable in the sight of the one with the extra propane adaptor and the one with the chainsaw became valuable to the one with the running hot water.
Suddenly the gruff, distracted and somewhat aloof neighbor has plenty of firewood to share becoming a friend, compatriot and a fellow soldier in the battle for heat and sustenance.
And somehow you also discover the sound of the incessantly barking dog across the street is far more preferable to the noise of the incessantly running gas-powered generator one street over! Uh……..no further comment.
Finally, it was enlightening and exhausting to discover what I could do and what I could do…without. It might seem obvious in some ways but you know…I have a new-found respect for our pioneering forefathers and others in countries without access to our “common” luxuries of running water, electricity and grocery down the street. Let’s get real… it’s a helluva lot of work. No wonder, as my friend reminded me, so many died so young. Dang.
I only know I was getting lazier, more wasteful and thoughtless about how I was using my resources of water, electricity and food…not to mention my single-most precious resource of all:
My devices were rapidly becoming my vices. I needed a reason to make a clean break and reset my value-meter. I think we all did.
However, she pauses right out of the gate and invites us to see how the verse is also calling us to the sweet place of stopping long enough to really and truly consider the lilies. Sometimes, we miss the lilies for all our rush about.
Maybe for the first time in a long time.. because I’ve been toiling and spinning, toiling and spinning along with the rest of the world and I
wanted needed to stop.
I see what I might still be missing if God had not slowed it all down, if only for a few days, releasing me from the chokehold of all the chaos and clamor of constant activity. The pause has made space for these words by Audrey Assad to find a home in my soul:
It’s been a beautiful day on Pine street. At nearly 70 degrees, if it wasn’t for the mounds of debris and the distant growls of chainsaws coming from every direction, you might think we’d been lying!
A neighbor just stopped and rolled down the window with another word of appreciation and to let me know we’re planning a neighborhood picnic when we get past all the clean up.
What a blessing.
Yes, there’s been a revival on Pine street. The good Lord has seen fit to use a catastrophic ice storm to melt some icy hearts all around. I’m simply grateful He started with mine.
and Nacole’s Concrete Words