I liked Ike. The hurricane, that is. Of course, I didn’t like the destruction at all. I hated that, both what I saw in my own backyard and what I saw all around my hometown. But here’s what I did like:
I liked the sense of community. When the power went off and the faucets went dry, we all stepped out of our insular lives. We came out of our homes and into our yards, our streets and the front porches of neighbors we hadn’t had a real conversation with in months or even years. And we shared. We shared the contents of our freezers before spoilage set in. We shared ice if we had it, coffee if we found it, and power if ours came on first or we were lucky enough to have a generator and enough gas to run it. We also shared our thoughts, our concerns, our lives and ourselves.
We helped one another. More than a dozen friends showed up at our house 36 hours after the rains ended. They spent an entire day chainsawing and dragging debris from our back lawn to a dumping site next door. Someone with a gas stove offered to let me simmer a pot of soup. Another friend had water long before we did. I still remember taking a much needed hot shower by candlelight.
When the electricity came back on, and with it the air conditioning, the cable TV, and the ever present internet, we all went back inside and closed the doors. The streets emptied. The deep sense of community diminished. Before long everything went back to normal. Not all of “normal” was better. What is fellowship? Isn’t it helping one another, listening to our neighbors and meeting their needs? While I know that’s a part of what God means for me to do, sometimes it’s far more easily said than done. Why should it take a major storm to knock down the walls of convenience that keep us apart?
I liked the part of Ike that brought me closer to people I too often push to the periphery of my life. While I hope never to experience another major hurricane, I hope I can find a way to become more like I was after Ike—open, aware and ready to share. My pastor puts it this way: Love. Connect. Serve. Will you join me in that endeavor?