Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: August 28, 2017

 

Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding. At least 5 people are reported dead. 13 million people affected. 11 million gallons of rain. 800 and 1,200 people had been rescued. 316,000 customers had lost electricity across the state. 56,000 911 calls overwhelmed the emergency response system, as 3,000 National Guard and Texas State Guard members helping affected areas, along with 500 vehicles and 14 aircraft. 25 more inches of rain (that’ over 2 feet) could fall through Friday over the upper Texas coast, while storm totals may reach 50 inches over the upper Texas coast. Hurricane Harvey, labeled a “one-in-1,000-years-type of event”, struck the coastline of Texas at a Category 4 late Friday, with 130 m.p.h. winds and rain battering coastal and inland communities. This event will last a few more days, but the recovery will take months, if not years.

It is hard to imagine what the people of Texas are going through during this storm. Some being airlifted from the roof of their houses, or being taken by flat-bottomed rescue boats through the thresholds of their homes where water has almost reached the doorposts; doorposts they have walked through almost without thought, many for literally decades. These thresholds have allowed folks to come home, be together, enjoy one another’s company, celebrate major life events like anniversaries, and birthdays, and births. These thresholds have welcomed visitors and salespeople and family members. They have bid sojourners and college-bound students well. They have allowed the grieving to find solace, and the lost to find safety and surety of inclusion. Now, they are all but under water. Gone.

I cannot help but feel for these people with empathy, not just sympathy. I do not have to imagine how they feel, I have lived through it. I know how they feel today. No, perhaps not to the degree they are, but to a degree enough to allow me the understanding of their pain, as they watch helplessly as their lives are washed away. I stood in the Undercroft of our own parish and watched as rain fell from the ceiling with such force as to make you believe you were literally standing outside under a storm cloud! I wept on the front steps of the parish as water came behind me from inside to outside. I cried alongside of so many as we used wet-vacs in an attempt to mitigate the damage being done before our very eyes. I witnessed the destruction that untamed water can bring. Now, I have lived in a construction zone – a re-building zone – for almost four months. Yes, I know how these people feel, and how they will feel, soon. Their lives, as they knew it are gone. 
 
I also know something else: God is good, too. I know that many in Texas will not see this right away. I didn’t. I wanted to give up. To die. To simply crawl away. I didn’t. I stayed and I prayed and I believed. Then, it happened: We  witnessed a miracle!
 
Our parish flood happened over three days with as many ‘mini floods’. The first occurred on a Wednesday afternoon with that first unprecedented microburst storm that brought with it literally inches of rain in a mere minute’s time. It flooded the construction level and the parish main hallways almost immediately. We recovered from that and began to rebuild and dry out. Then, another storm hit that very Saturday morning! This time all three levels were flooded. We barely got the water up and out to the parking lot when the literal dam broke! The tarp, that had been placed over the construction to prevent flooding, broke due to the weight of the water and all three levels were literally flooded in an instant with thousands of gallons of water, again! We all just stood there and watched helpless, as water flooded every square inch of three levels. Then, we all saw it!
 
We walked to the Sanctuary doors and looked in expecting the worst. Our newly renovated Sanctuary surely must be underwater, too. But, no! Not a drop! Even through the Sanctuary doors are a full inch above the carpeting from the main hallway that was flooded, no water entered the Sanctuary itself! It was as if God said, as He did in The Book of Job, “And I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’?” And they did! The water stopped short of God’s house – God’s Sanctuary was spared real damage and we rebuilt. In a matter of days, we will be whole again and bless a new rectory and renovated space; free of damage and made better than before! God is indeed good. 
 
To the people of Texas, and all areas effected by flooding and destruction, and to all who feel under water, like I often do. I leave you today with the words – and the promise – of our God found in Genesis,I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” 
 
There is hope. Hang on. You shall be made better than new!
 

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