Thursday, April 19, 2012

newspaper column, on healing and hope

This week's column for the St. Clair Times was written at the end of a very long Friday, and so the words didn't make it to the page the way they probably should have. Hoping to have something longer later this week about our trip to Boston for the marathon. As always, feel free to argue here or on Twitter.

Healing comes slowly

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair. … cast down, but not destroyed.
— 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

For some reason, every time that ESPN documentary “Roll Tide/War Eagle” comes on, I find myself getting sucked in.

I have no idea why – there’s nothing in the documentary that’s particularly groundbreaking, and the sight of that Updyke guy sort of makes me sick to my stomach.

And the ending is always the same: the skies turn gray, the storms come … and everything cowers in its wake. Nearly everyone still chokes up at the sight of that destruction – yes, even a professional meteorologist like Ashley Brand, who teared up in Moody last week.

The part that gets me in the film, though, isn’t the storm. It’s the aftermath. It’s the kids, the adults, the employees, the volunteers – they all showed up, and they all went to work.

“Sometimes you come outside in the morning with your work gloves, and there were 40 people standing in your yard that you never met,” said Sandy Harlow, a Shoal Creek Valley resident who was the beneficiary of a Habitat for Humanity project, along with four other families in the area. “They’re from Colorado, or Virginia or Texas. We’ve had people from all over the country, and people who didn’t even speak English.

“I couldn’t imagine the scope of it, not just in our community, but in other areas of Alabama – they have been overwhelmed since last April. But it’s truly a blessing to have so many people with such a good heart.”

Nearly a year later – and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the St. Clair Times’ “Reflections” special section, which will be available April 26 — things are not “normal” again. Ride around in Shoal Creek Valley or Cullman or Pleasant Grove or Tuscaloosa, and you won’t see “normal.” If such a thing ever existed in the first place.

But there is healing, even if it comes slowly. Houses are repaired, rebuilt or built anew. Problems arise, but are overcome. And now we are here, one year later.

The story didn’t end on April 27, and it doesn’t end here at the anniversary. No doubt the pain we all feel when we observe our moment of silence or have prayer time isn’t ever going to go away.

Still, what I will always remember is not the winds that came, but the folks that came after. And they’re still coming. Maybe there’s hope for this world after all.

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