The Force of Nature


I am in Jacksonville, Florida. Today is the day after Hurricane Matthew blew through our beloved town and we have awakened to slight wind and sunshine. For some, there were only a few limbs and an occasional fallen mailbox or tree to clean up. For others, their homes and businesses are flooded and they are still trying to get back into their neighborhoods after being evacuated.

As a whole, all Floridians are mourning the changing of our landscape and beaches, and our beloved haunts that have been affected drastically by the storms. I am especially saddened by the videos of St. Augustine and the flooding of the historic campus, Flagler College. My son went there this summer for two weeks to learn about film production. We visited him at the end of his time there and all the parents and families of the students watched the films they had created. I can’t help but wonder how it all looks now. At the time, it was such an honor to roam those halls – it is full of such history and beauty. It is hard to think about those halls being filled with rain and sea water today.

We all watch with hope to make sure the storm continues to lessen as it blows into our adjacent states and breathe a sigh of relief as the hours tick by and we know it will be gone for good soon.

Today, neighbors came out of their houses to chat, to assess, to commiserate. One neighbor, anonymously, laid down a new piece of lumber in our yard, right next to our fallen mailbox, to save us a trip to the hardware store.

It is times like these that we are reminded that hope reigns eternal and we really do care about one another. It seems even more noteworthy with the presidential parties seemingly tearing our nation into two separate sidelines. All you have to do is check social media and see the lines drawn in the sand, the anger, the confusion. It is a difficult time to remember to try and understand one another, especially if we discover we are on one side of an issue while our neighbor is on the other. It is hard to remember that we are all in this together.

One thing I can say about Hurricane Matthew, it helped us remember.

It brought our thoughts back to what is truly important. All of us want the same things – a place to call home, people who care about us, and a bit of help and support along the way to keep us going.

I would have preferred that Hurricane Matthew had never made an appearance. But I have to admit that since it has, it has helped many of us to lay down our differences and work together. My neighbor has political views that our totally different than my husband’s and my own. But, today, we talked in our front yards together, talked about cleanup and roadblocks and how fortunate our street was to go unscathed. And I know, all around the states affected, and in the Bahamas and Haiti, neighbors are helping neighbors.

Frederick Douglass once said, “It is not light we need, but fire; it is not gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

So, Hurricane Matthew, we heard you. And we remember what is truly important.

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