I have thought and rethought what I wrote yesterday - about the fun we had on our evacuation sleepover. It was fun but I know that many reading that may find the expression cavalier, thoughtless, or flip. It was fun because we were safe, secure, and with loved ones. It was pointless to stress and worry - no amount of fretting would halt the flood waters or turn back the clock. For many others who have been evacuated the experience was very different. Watching the flood coverage on channel after channel all they could do was hope and pray that the damage would not be too great, knowing that the homes they loved were certainly flooded.
This morning I had an errand to take supplies to a crew of volunteers involved in cleanup. As I slowly made my way through streets clogged with vehicles, debris, dumpsters, and workers to the home of our friends I felt like weeping. The devastation was awful, the cleanup overwhelming. House after house with muddy household goods and ruined furniture and carpets piled in the yard. People covered in mud to their armpits as they worked to repair the damage.
Many have lost much (or most) of their worldly goods. Things that they treasure, that are the accumulation of a lifetime. It is all too easy to respond that these things they have lost are only things - that at least they have one another, that things can be replaced. But the truth is that some things cannot be replaced and these are the things that will be mourned. Of course everyone acknowledges that things are not people - not loved ones - but the things that we cannot replace are often closely tied to memories of those loved ones. Other things that we cannot replace may be our concrete proof of accomplishments, that we were here or went there. They hold memory for us much like a photo does. To lose those things can feel a bit like losing the loved one or the memory.
For each of us what we collect is an intimate and personal reflection. From the books we read to the clothes we wear and the furniture we sit on they tell a tale to any who care to notice of who we really are. The collections of some are (sadly) only an assortment of items directed by the whims of fashion and media, while the collections of others are unique and wonderful catalogues of a life well-lived.
I know that this flood we are cleaning up after has brought sorrow and loss to many. I know that they will recover from that with time and help - we are after all, hardwired to adapt by a loving Father in Heaven. The beauty of the devastation around us lies in the selfless service and sincere concern of one neighbour for another. There is so much love offered and accepted as we work our way back to order and security. We do live in a wonderful world.