On a more serious note today, I would like to acknowledge the many, many people who have been affected in some way by the terrible storms that have hit parts of the US over the past few days.
Mother Nature can be quite mysterious and unpredictable sometimes. She has the power to bring great joy and happiness–a pleasantly cool autumn night, a light breeze on a hot summer day, a fresh white snowfall on the eve of Christmas. She also from time to time can throw a curve ball at us, one that is not so nice, that tests our strength and perseverance. Over the past week, thousands upon thousands of lives have been dramatically impacted by the severe weather that has plagued parts of the United States, including the Midwest and South, as well as other areas. As many of you all know, I have a very intense fear of tornadoes. I have been extremely lucky not to have been in any (although on several occasions, I have come very close). It amazes me how much power a twister has, how it can spring up out of nowhere, move and tear through a town and within a matter of mere minutes, destroy everything in its path.
This is a picture taken Wednesday after a massive tornado made its way through Birmingham, AL. The tornado was one of many spawned by a vast, violent storm system that has so far killed as many as 231 people in six U.S. states as of today. At least 131 people have died in Alabama alone, where several strong tornadoes tore through cities. One weather man was quoted as saying, “This could be one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the nation’s history by the time it’s over.” I can’t imagine the feeling of coming out of a storm to this scene, to have lost everything you own, to not be able to recognize the town or city you once were so familiar with.
A silent monster, although to be quite honest, these monsters can be anything but silent. Witnesses say that this tornado (which was just over a mile wide) that barreled through Tuscaloosa late Wednesday night sounded like a steady moving freight train, demolishing everything in its path. In all of the times that I have come close to tornadoes such as these (but not nearly to the extent to which these were), there was always an eerie stillness and quite that both proceeded and followed the storm. Nothing is as scary as that stillness, that muted silence that fills the air.
The devastation that these terrible storms brought was simply unparalleled. Cities’ infrastructures have been absolutely decimated leaving many homeless and without a great deal of hope. According to Red Cross officials who were present, the number of ambulances on the street in Birmingham was just like taxicabs in New York; there was a constant flow of people being ushered to the hospital, loved ones trying to find each other, injured victims being catered to…it was the definition of chaos. These are scenes that I can only begin to imagine in my nightmares. The good thing about nightmares is that you eventually wake up from them. The victims of these violent storms don’t have that option–they are left to deal with the aftermath, to pick up the pieces and to move forward.
I want to let everyone who might have been affected by these storms know that each and every one of them are in my thoughts and prayers. I know that hope may feel slim right now, that there is a deep sense of sadness and heartache and loss. I can’t even begin to imagine the strength that these people must have to be able to go through something as tragic as this, rebuild not only homes and their town but their lives, and be better people because of it. Mother Nature may work in mysterious ways, but God takes the cake on that notion. I don’t know the reason behind why or how these storms took place, nor do I pretend to understand why it will probably happen again in the future. All I do know is that the big guy upstairs does not give us anything we can’t handle. He does things to test our strength and faith and hope in him, in ourselves, and in others. There could never be a rainbow without a little rain. The sun will shine again and that is one thing that everyone can hold on to.
“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” ~George Iles