Many of us have been bracing for days in preparation of Hurricane Irma. Only a week ago we had been watching the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and many of us were moved to respond with Christian charity. They will continue to need our help, as well as parts of Louisiana and Tennessee who experienced flooding from the storm. Thankfully, there are Christians organizations like Episcopal Relief & Development and Samaritan's Purse who are mobilized to provide resources through people like us, and they will continue to do so.
Now here we are waiting for Irma to come our way. We have felt the build-up and we have learned by what we witnessed with Harvey. I remember asking my husband just a week ago, "if you just had a garbage bag for carrying your most needed possessions, what would be in your bag?" It was a way of asking myself, when I pair down to the true essentials, what would I have? I have read on disaster preparedness sites about what they recommend, so I am doing that, but then I am reflecting upon all that I can let go. When it comes right down to it, I am taking two wedding photos off the wall, insurance documents, passports, ownership of property documents, a change of clothing, toiletries, two books, the Bible, my phone, my laptop computer, and my pets. I can let everything else go if the storm takes it from me. I could even let some of what I am taking go, but I can take a little more than a small garbage bag.
Now where am I going, you might ask? Why the need to pack? Charles and I have been preparing our home for the chance of flash flooding, so we are taking just these few things (and Charles has his short list which can't include his piano!) and hanging out in my parents' home in S. Lakeland since it seems less prone to having the water issue. It's hard to predict what will happen, but we are working on our intuition and street smarts!
All this to say, we are preparing for the storm and engaging with God's plans for us in the midst of it. It would seem that God is doing a good work through us by making us more mindful of community and what matters most. I am aware of all the material possessions that I could let go, and then I am also paying more attention to the relationships and people and the work God still wants me to do. Both Charles and I have reached out to neighbors and folks we know who might need a helping hand. In a time when people could get extremely selfish, our response can be one of hospitatlity and generosity.
I had the opportunity to see the movie All Saints' last weekend and in the midst of a devastating storm that seemed to wipe out the hopes and dreams of a church at the end of its means, God answered prayers by bringing new life to the community of people. They were focused on a healthy crop to bring the money that they needed, but God did much, much more by showing them how to need one another and to become the body of Christ in that place. It is my prayer for Lakeland and our community that all of us discover how God is having us care for one another, for weathering the storm together and rebuilding together when it comes time.