Let's just say I had decided before noon which closet (we don't have an interior room) we would all go into, had double checked that we would all fit, and had pulled out some cheerios, applesauce pouches, extra sippy cups, and a few diapers.
WHAT?!?! Tornadoes move FAST and 3 children move SLOW. I wanted to be ready. Those 4 months I was in the girl scouts weren't for nothing.
But, obviously, we were fine. We never went in a closet. I didn't need the cheerios & diapers. My fear was all for naught. Thankfully.
But for a lot of people this morning, that is not true. This morning people woke up without a home. Without a family member. Without a job. Without food. Without any idea how to start putting things back together in the wake of a natural disaster. Without hope.
And I am not one of them. I am safe. And they are not.
My temptation is to just be thankful that it wasn't me, and move on. I know that people will go and help, the government will send money and manpower, somehow things will start rebuilding.
I really struggle with knowing how to connect to these things. How to empathize with a disaster so large, with loss so profound, with people I don't know, with places that aren't mine. How to connect my teeny-tiny life, my searching heart, to something so enormous. But I really want to.
I really want to connect. I don't want to numb myself, or turn away, or simply forget. I want to know about the plight of my fellow man. I want to care. I want to pray. I want to know the world as it is, in it's brokenness, in it's horror, as well as in it's beauty.
I don't really have money to send. I can't physically go and rebuild. I can, however, pray. Except, I don't really know how. It doesn't feel real to me. I want to pray, I try to pray, but I find my prayers empty. Lacking authenticity.
I read a great post a while ago by Molly Piper that discussed connecting to other people in their grief. She was encouraging people to stop saying "I can't image" to people who were suffering, and instead, to just TRY to imagine. Just really sit for a minute and try. She said "Real love gets into the trenches of grief and suffering. It imagines. It lets it’s mind’s eye linger. Real love will not avert its eyes. It won’t say, “Your disaster is too much for me.”"
I've thought about this idea a lot since then. What it means to really TRY to imagine. So, last night, I really tried.
I sat and watched the news, and imagined what it might feel like to live in a neighborhood that was gone. I read some articles, and imagined what it would be like to have lost friends, or family members. I skimmed through some news blogs and imagined what it would be like to have nowhere to sleep tonight, and nowhere to earn money tomorrow.
And then, I stumbled on these pictures. And I imagined what it would feel like to walk out of a safe room holding my son. I imagined what it would feel like to hold him, and walk through the rubble. I imagined what it would be like to not know where he would sleep that night. What he would eat the next day.
Molly was right. When I let my mind's eye linger, it actually saw something. And it was not comfortable. But it was effective. Because I have been praying all night. All morning. Because now it does feel more real. Now, I feel like I have something and someone to pray for. I feel like, a teeny tiny bit, I can understand. I can imagine.
These words were printed on our church's Easter bulletin. It's the final verse from a John Newton hymn. The words are beautiful and moving anytime, but they feel especially so now.
All thy waste I will repair
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew
And in Me it shall appear
What the God of love can do.