“When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was not dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.” John 6:16-21
Fourteen years ago, on September 16th, Hurricane Ivan made a direct hit on the town of Orange Beach along the Alabama gulf coast near the Florida line. There were twenty-five deaths in the United States including fourteen in Florida. This category three storm caused major destruction to an area that had become our family’s beloved vacation spot for years.
My heart goes out to the people on the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts who have just been visited by Hurricane Florence. I remember the days of looking at any picture that might show if our special place had been destroyed. It was weeks before we could go back to survey the damage. When we finally were able to return to our condo on the fourth floor, the elevators were of course not functioning, so it was a major trek up and down the stairs.
Major parts of the front of the build were gone. Every condo on the first floor had been destroyed by wind and water. We hardly recognized the building. It took some time to figure out exactly where the stairwells were. Two large glass doors had blown out of the condo and furniture had been blown out of the gapping exposed spaces.. We made multiple trips to dispose of the rotting food left in the refrigerator.
My greatest remembrance is the disorientation that came when so many of the familiar markers were gone. Besides the damage to the front of our condominium, street signs were gone, familiar buildings had disappeared, parts of the roads were destroyed so that we had to take detours.
I think this natural disaster is a reminder of what happens when there are major emotional crisis or significant changes in our own lives such as the death of a loved one, a life-threatening illness, a divorce, a move, even sometimes a new job.
All of our usual markers are gone. We become disoriented. Every decision may become agonizingly difficult to make. It is sometimes hard to find our way. Often it is like we are in a foreign country, and many of the people we are talking to are speaking a language we have never heard before.
It is important to recognize this state of mind, to take care of ourselves, and be open to help. My experience also is that recovery comes with the help of friends and the community that supports us. If we try to white knuckle it and get through the crisis by ourselves, the burden often becomes intolerable.