Monday, August 20, 2007

Open skies and bigger waves

Tonight I am in a house in the relative calm of Dallas. The air conditioner hums tunes of cool air circulating in each room. It's the only sound I hear. My situation is far different tonight than the those residents all along the Yucatan peninsula. While the night sky outside rests peacefully suspended in the air, a meaner sky greets my neighbors to the south.

I was flipping through the channels, and a news broadcast came on announcing the imminent threat Hurricane Dean posed to the Yucatan peninsula, and alerted viewers that the hurricane had now risen to level 5 hurricane, the highest level they have to rate hurricanes. Gusts of nearly 200 miles per hour characterize level 5 hurricanes. This is no light event. Nothing to yawn about as my mind fades to thoughts of sleep.

It just amazes me how vast and varied our experiences are here on earth. I will soon go to sleep, and will probably awake to the sight of a normal sky laced with a normal, hot sun. Trees outside will still be rooted to the ground. Cars will be right side up, ready to drive. The lights will turn on and the shower will work. Tomorrow morning will be a far different story for those on the Yucatan.

And so goes life. We sometimes think that we can sympathize with others, but really, we can't. We can offer what limited condolences and small amounts of grief we can muster, but in the end, we are miles away from understanding each other. It's too easy to go to sleep tonight whispering prayers of safety and protection for the people of the peninsula, but I will wake up without the threat of a completely altered life.

For this reality to exist, though, magnifies the power of a far greater force, community. You see, each and every human being is placed within a circular realm of community, as crazy, unique, and intricate as each may be. Our webs of community each look as different as snowflakes under a microscope, but they are what bond us together. The experiences each community faces together reinforce and strengthen that common thread in the fabric of the community. It brings to life the vibrancy and texture of human relations.

As horrible and awful as things like hurricanes are, they are the yeast that gets in the dough to make it rise. Community is only as strong as it is in its weakest and most vulnerable moment. Maybe thats why the human spirit rallies when tragedies occur. For a few moments we put down our differences and decide to clothe ourselves with compassion, carefully tending the wounds that need healing. It's those memories that guide our communities forward, because we realize that in the end, while the world may not care, our community cares, and that is enough.

I can't understand what the people of the Yucatan are going through tonight, or how they will respond in the coming weeks. But I praise the Lord for providing us with communities that give that much needed support and comfort. I praise the Lord that many small groups of people will huddle together tomorrow, holding on to the most precious things in life, cherishing love, and realizing that life can move forward, as bleak as it may look. And I know that in some small way, the broader community surrounding the smaller webs can reach out and provide support in ways words cannot express. Simply caring, and acting on this compassion allows us to share in the piecing back of life for a broken community.

The response will be so deep, with so many layers, that it is hard to understand how healing occurs. But this I do know. The core of that healing is found in the community, where common experience paves the way for love, compassion, and help to take place. And surrounding that central core comes the healing found through external means, from other communities. And that, I realize, is what ultimately bonds us together as one giant community.

As different as we all are, as varied as our communities are, and as numerous as they may be, we all live on the same planet and breathe the same air. We all share the same need for love, community, and acceptance. And tonight I go to sleep marveling at the creativity of a God who orchestrated the design of community, knowing that we humans, as strong as we like to think we are, ultimately need each other more than we will ever know.

ho Kuriov mou kai ho Theos



Andrew said...

yeah... I had to re-do the website. It'll be back the way it was by Friday or so.

No Heroes Here said...

Thanks Mark, good to hear from you! Hope you had a sweet summer and all is well in TX. Take care!