Disaster

Reflections on the Gulf Coast

A year ago I got off a plane and looked beyond the security gate and recognized a friend I had never met before. She showed me her world and welcomed me into her family. I knew the day I left that I needed to go back again.

Last Friday I went with St. Casserole to Bay St. Louis. When I visited last year, it was part of the big disaster tour on which Mr. C drove me, a trip that also took us to Waveland and Pearlington. The immensity of the damage brought forth a bad word, for which I apologized, and Mr. C graciously assured me that some sights required strong words.

180_BeachPilings

That’s what we were looking at, the remains of Beach Boulevard. I could only say it looked like a fireplacein’ bomb hit it. (Click on the images to see a bigger version at Flickr.)

Beach Blvd. Bay St. Louis

It looks better now. Thank God. I had to get out of the road to let cars go by. They are rebuilding the Highway 90 bridge.

How do we cope when life holds disaster, tragedy, or even big changes?

new McDonald's in Waveland

We look to the Golden Arches.

Mockingbird Cafe

We find our way to the new cafe for a cup of really good coffee and a beautiful sandwich.

We do whatever makes life feel, even for a minute, normal.

One of my church members lost everything in a house fire many years ago. What made it possible to go on? A friend offered up the home of a family member wintering in Florida. My church member, her husband and their three young children moved into it and lived there for three months. I asked her how she managed? She had to get up each day and take care of the children, she said, and the things she couldn’t do, she had to let other people do for her. The tasks were simply too immense to take on alone.

I look back on my trip of a year ago and feel I didn’t do very much. I preached a couple of sermons, something I do all the time. I walked some dogs, not exactly an infrequent occurrence in my life. I watched and listened.

On this second trip I watched and listened again. I saw the houses of the rich rebuilt quickly, and the houses of the less well off still waiting for owners who may never return. I saw the work done by church groups, tireless and constantly replenished. I saw emptiness where homes should be. I saw new businesses and old ones that will never return. I heard stories of the strain the storm caused, both in its initial trauma and in its aftermath of displacement and deprivation. Divorces, murders, quieter suffering remain part of the landscape along with broken fences and blue tarp roofs and FEMA trailers.

I reflected on how spoiled I am by good coffee and high speed Internet.

RevGals in the grotto

Mostly, I rejoiced in a friendship made possible by the mysterious power of the Internet, begun on a snowy day when I had nothing better to do than click, click, click and discover other clergywomen who blogged. I want to think God worked this out somehow, but then I find I am giving credit for the good while wanting to excuse God for the hurricane. However it works, I am thankful for St. Casserole.

20 thoughts on “Reflections on the Gulf Coast”

  1. I live 30 minutes from Pearlington. Over the past year I have thought about people who lose everything in a fire. Blessedly, they are usually the only family to lose it all (or in California, the only county). Down here, thousands and thousands lost it all and those of us who didn’t lost something. There are many things we can’t do because we still have to live our lives, raise our children, or practice our vocations.
    Thanks for coming to help and spread the word that help is still appreciated.

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  2. Sherry, thanks for your comment. It takes tremendous courage to keep living when all the landmarks, both literal and figurative, have been rearranged or blown away entirely. God bless you and your family.

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  3. Oh Will, I can answer that one…..my guess is that Set Free was pillow sitting! Songbird is the only blogger I’ve met who is actually shorter than me!

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  4. Not for the first time, I feel the need to say how much I love both you and St C…I’m so glad that you clicked on that link – and the hair, of course, looks great! xx

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  5. Thanks for such a great post. It’s funny but last night I was praying and I felt a strong need to thank God for finding the RevGals.

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  6. “She had to get up each day and take care of the children, she said, and the things she couldn’t do, she had to let other people do for her.”
    The first will keep you going far past where anything else will. The second is a very hard lesson to learn, and this is a very wise woman to have learned / accepted it.

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  7. Those two head of hair are wonderfully shiny. 😀
    And the McDonalds looks so much better now! Thanks for the post.
    And blessings this Sunday. And as you move on. I’ll be thinking of you and praying.

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