The city of Joplin is much like a funeral home at this hour. The knots in our stomachs have continued to tighten, a few laughs have been shared between the tears and the reality of those we’ve lost has finally begun to settle in. The mourning process has just begun and much like losing someone you’ve loved the grief will come out in random spurts, when we reach for the reality we knew that has been ripped apart.
It’s this sorrow that is attached to us, but does not define us. We wear it like a coat at the end of winter, ready to shed it as soon as we possibly can.
The understanding of life beyond living in the moment has finally begun to grip us. Where will we live? How will we afford it? What forms do I need to fill out?
Emotion hits us like waves at the beach, slowly breaking apart the sand castles we so carefully crafted at the water’s edge. With each grain that is pulled away we are left exposed and we weep at what that possibly means. Many of us feel like were on a tight rope walking with no net beneath.
Amidst this backdrop of disaster, hope still paints the landscape in brilliant colors. We find it in the hearts and hands of our neighbors. Our faith is shared silently as prayers are offered between sips of coffee to keep us going. Love is shown in a meal offered in a parking lot. Compassion is given in bottles of water and toys for children. Hope is offered in handfuls. Each person receiving more in spontaneous acts of kindness. We hold it carefully for fear it may slip between our fingers.
The weight of the unknown is still felt by many as we search for our loved ones. We place call after call hoping to hear they are ok, fearing a different answer that may be offered.
This is my city.
An EF-5 tornado cut straight through the heart of Joplin, leaving a 6 mile scar that is a half mile wide. With that violent force it claimed the lives of 126 and injured nearly a thousand.
In this moment the world looked to Joplin and opened its arms, hearts and wallets. Prayers, donations and love began to flow from every corner to a city on its knees. In seconds we have witnessed the sheer brutality of nature and in four days the overwhelming power of human kindness and compassion.
I say with all certainty that I believe that that force is far more powerful than any twister we could ever face. A tornado may have changed our lives in moments but this massive global effort is continually shaping our recovery.
I choose to believe that for those of us who have survived, the morning air will taste sweeter, an embrace of a loved one will be held longer and the value of making a stranger a friend has risen higher.
Hope can be one of two things.
It can function as a noun. In that case the definition is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. In this instance it certainly reflects in some ways what I long for Joplin. I want to see it’s people come closer together. I want those who are lost to be found. I want our faith to be strengthened and joy to be restored. But sometimes wanting something is simply not enough for it to be formed into reality.
That is why I choose the second thing that Hope can be…a verb.
That definition calls for this. To trust, expect or believe.
I trust, expect and believe that Joplin will be better than it ever was before. I have faith that we will see this city rise from the rubble, neighbor helping neighbor and hand in hand.
The book of Romans says this,”But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
I have faith in God and so many around us that we will decide that brighter tomorrow. That our efforts will build a legacy well beyond our years that will impact our children and theirs.
We have that choice now to become that avenue of Hope to so many around us. I encourage you to join with me.
We will still have our sorrow and grief to share. But eventually that bright summer will come when we can shed it. Until then we will wear it together and share our tears and our stories. Emotion will pour out and we’ll let it come, til it comes no more.
Hope is alive and well. It remains in the hands and hearts of our neighbors. It is a belief in each other. It is the trust we place in our neighbors. It is the expectation that we will heal.3 notes