While I'm not the best about keeping up with the news, I'm not completely oblivious to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced and devastated by Katrina. (I'm pretty sure that name will soon drop completely off every list of popular baby names.) Though it did take me a couple days after the storm to get filled in. Not unlike the federal government, apparently.
In times like these, I have a hard time looking at the death and destruction. I'm not one to slow down to check out wrecks on the side of the freeway, so long as there are emergency personnel present. But something this far-reaching is much harder to ignore. I want to have faith that God is present and in charge even in the midst of our horror and grief. That He has some kind of plan and purpose to enact through this display of force and strength by His own creation.
We enjoyed the more peaceful, beautiful side of that creation at our church family camp this weekend. Spent two days in the Sequoias enjoying the clean air, enormous evergreens, and time to walk through the woods, drive to the lake, or just sit by the fire -- no cooking or cleaning required. The experience contrasted so dramatically with the suffering of those in Lousiana, Missippi and the rest, it was difficult to think about. Even as I had trouble sleeping on the hard, narrow camp bed with my almost 3-year-old son plastered to my side, how could I complain? I had a bed to sleep in. I had an intact home to return to as soon as I wanted. I had my children and husband with me.
In fact, despite our peaceful surroundings, I wondered how much more God's Spirit was at work across the country in the aftermath of the hurricane. Even as new life grows out of the ugliness left by a forest fire, the chaos and filth left behind by Katrina might be more fertile ground for human displays of genuine community, love, and depth of life. Shock, fear, grief and anger come first, of course. But I have to hope that stories of love, hope and bravery will follow.
In the meantime, we can send blankets to refugees, volunteer at our local Red Cross, and pray. It helps to do something, and prayer isn't a small thing.