They are just like us (6/3/13)

 Dr. Karin L. Smithson in Atlanta Ga wrote this….

All of us feel a heaviness of heart as we witness the destruction of life, families and community in the images from Moore, Oklahoma and the tornados that ripped through their hometown without regard for the lives and neighborhoods that were in its path.

It is so hard to fathom the irrefutable power of Mother Nature as we see the splintered and flattened schools, demolished buildings and homes, and the desolated blocks in a town just like ours. Our hearts ache with an instant helplessness as we envision the overwhelming experience these beautiful people are facing. 

They are just like you and me after all … 

They sent their children to school, went to work while making plans for Memorial Day weekend, and ran to pick up their dry cleaning after running around buying last-minute graduation gifts.  They picked out clothes for the last week of school, poured bowls of cereal while watching Good Morning America, and brewed their coffee with excitement about the summer and happier weather that lie ahead.

They were just like us on a morning just like ours … until their day became something very different. 

They experienced a trauma so powerful, it is impossible to explain the deep impact that those devastating storms had on their lives in those minutes it passed overhead … as well as the lasting impact it will have on their lives as they emotionally dig their histories out of the rubble in the months and years to come. 

Their children are just like ours. 

They said good-bye to them that morning over hot coffee and warm waffles. Like ours, theirs were kids of all ages with backpacks thrown over their shoulders, funny t-shirts worn over favorite jeans, and stories about their friends trailing them as they went out the door, bouncing off their eager faces for these last days of the school year.

They were just like our kids … until their day became something very different. 

The difference would be that they would return to devastated neighborhoods with memories of a war with Mother Nature … the realization that friends and their school were gone …or trying to understand the reasons why they were transported to the local hospital for medical interventions and surgeries to save their injured bodies and keep infection from setting in. 

And, of course, the most permanent change would come in the lost lives of the precious victims … who would not return … anywhere … at all. And all of us grieve with deeply felt pain as we imagine the horror that they experienced in those ravaging final minutes as the storm passed through their once-vibrant worlds, over their once-vibrant bodies, taking their 

breath for the last time, and passing them on to the safety of Heaven.

We can pray for these families, who need miles of support … just like we would desperately need if we lost the unimaginable. They need to know that the love and resources will be long-standing and that their loved ones will not be forgotten. They need to find miracles amidst the destruction – just like we would – and they need to find stories of hope in the rubble  … 

Just like we all seek to do tonight. 

And there are obviously much less important losses than life, but significant losses nonetheless, that will change the lives of those staring at their splintered homes with grit-stained cheeks. That is the depletion of decades of hard-earned belongings, hand-built properties, and sweat-invested businesses that were a part of the history of their lives. Gone. Flattened. In an instant.

They are just like us… 

Yes, so much like each of us, with their special collections, shelves of sacred photo albums, handmade artwork, precious mementos, prized gardens, family heirlooms, and beloved items that symbolized milestones or memories in their lives.  So much that they will have to make peace with letting go, and so much history lost … just like we all would feel, like  sand falling through our hands with nothing we could do to stop it. 

So today … 

We must honor the trauma of their experience and offer them hearts of compassion and prayers of hope in their long hours of suffering. 

We must honor what they are feeling and offer hands of assistance to help them as time moves forward and they make sense of how to clean up and rebuild new lives.

We must honor the lives that are lost by calling them by name, praying for their families, and not forgetting them as our own seasons pass. 

We must ask God to continue to blanket their families, friends and communities with peace, hope and faith as the season of grieving carries on in their hearts. 

We must stop and be silent in prayer for them and not separate ourselves from what they are going through, who they are, or where they are from because really and truly … they are just like us.