After church on Sunday I went to visit a family whose home had been flooded in the hurricane. When I pulled up to the house it looked fine, frankly. Everywhere there was evidence that water had been here and gone. The street had a slick mud coating and the grass in the lawn was matted and drowned. But the house looked fine.
When I opened the back door I saw it. The oak floors heaved and waved. The walls had been broken open and the plaster was already buckling. And the smell. He showed me the sodden sofa. Friends were packing every dish and spoon in moving boxes; it would all have to go into storage. She showed me the waterline on the wall. The first floor would have to be torn out, the heating system, all the ducts. Again. One week ago they had just finished rebuilding after Irene. Discouragement hung thick in the air.
We circled in the living room, held hands and prayed, the family who lived here and the friends and neighbors who were working. We prayed for patience, to understand how this could happen; for strength, to meet the days to come; for hope, to believe that all was not lost; for faith, to trust that God was with us no matter what; and for love, to keep our hearts open. There were tears, sniffles after the last Amen. Then it was back to work.
I keep praying this prayer that came to me the day the sun came up after the storm.
We give thanks, Lord, for the gift of life.
Thank you for reminding us, in moments like this,
that we are not in control of the world,
that life is precious and fragile,
and that tomorrow has never been
promised to anyone.
Thank you for reminding us
that all our things, all our possessions
can be taken from us in a moment,
and that only love is everlasting.
Rekindle our love for you, O God,
for those you have given us to love
in our families,
and for all those in need who—
as the story of the Samaritan reminds us—
are our neighbors.
Give us patience to wait
amid circumstances we cannot control,
and generous hearts to seek
and serve others
in your name.