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Hurricanes Stir Us Up

Thousands of people living in squalor, without the basic necessities. Dead bodies floating in disease-infected water. Law and order all but vanished. An entire city submerged. The images that flashed across our TV and computer screens of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina could have doubled for some war-torn third world country. It was, quite possibly, the worst natural disaster in American history.

But was this disaster really ‘natural?’ Mother Nature did her damage, that’s for sure. But the days that followed, as people stood helpless on rooftops waiting for rescue and waded through polluted waters to salvage some degree of sustenance, played out like some surreal episode of ‘Survivor.’ What made this drama all the more tragic was that thousands of people watched this unfolding disaster, wanting to help, having the skills and supplies to save lives – but not having the access to do so. The bizarre fact was that a majority of the public relief efforts were literally being turned away.

Whether you blame the local or federal government for this utter failure really doesn’t matter. The fact remains that we were – and still are – totally unprepared to deal with a major disaster on American soil. And the implications are staggering. If we can’t manage a crisis that we saw coming for days, how could we handle a major attack that takes us by surprise. Bottom line, in the days following Katrina, our Homeland Security was – and is -- looking anything but secure.

There is a newly awakened unrest stirring in us. On the surface we try to move forward, do the best we can to help those in need – while still maintaining our own necessities. But deep down – maybe not so deep – we know we’re vulnerable. In fact, in the face of so many disasters at home and abroad, many of us are beginning to feel helpless.

The natural inclination is to stuff our feelings and our stories down into the dark regions of ourselves, hoping that if we can just forget, we can remain strong. This would be a mistake. Out of sight may be out of mind, but it’s anything but gone. The truth is, our untold stories and unexpressed feelings are like a storm, gaining strength off the coast of our conscious mind. Unchecked, they will invariably crash ashore, bursting the levy that holds back the emotional waters, flooding our life, making us refugees in our own heart.

As an ancient scriptural passage warns…what you keep inside will kill you. But what you let out will save you. We must share our stories. Express our frustrations. Offer our guidance and wisdom. Not just in troubled times, but all the time.

Separated by our fears, we are weak.

United in our stories…we can become strong again.

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