This week has been a time to slow down and listen to the storied currents swirling around me. Every city, large or small, is a holder of the collected stories of the people who live there; New Orleans is certainly no exception. This place, where the dichotomy between poverty and wealth is clearly seen often places them within a neighborly reach of each other. Yet, the overriding theme I have heard in a slow southern drawl this week speaks of the path from tragedy to victory, testifying to God’s goodness along the way.
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. The impact was felt all along the region as water and wind rushed into the area leaving failed levees, flooded communities, and extreme damage in its wake. People found themselves in impossible situations, not being able to hear from or contact family for weeks, and feeling intense relief as they finally heard the voice of a loved one; even while realizing homes and businesses were destroyed. Lives were changed forever.
The stories of the devastation are still fresh in the minds of people who survived the storm. The losses experienced of people, pets, homes, businesses, plans and investments are still felt. However, in the midst of the losses, the continuation of the rebuilding of the city is shown through the hard work of restoration moving ahead with purposeful intensity.
Listeners might expect such stories to end in the loss and frustration found in the face of such a storm. Rather what is heard is an undeniable hope and resilience in the face of damages. Stories swirled around, as vital as the waters in the Mississippi River weaving through the city, pointing over again and again to the overwhelming goodness of God. Deep, heartfelt thankfulness spoke to those who have embraced the ability to participate once again in the day-to-day normalcy of life.
I loved hearing the stories of people, resilient faith tested by fire and water, coming out shining and beautiful through the forge of Katrina.