Sunday, October 18, 2015

River of Stories

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.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Marking the River

A river courses through the land below. Watching it from the airplane window, I wonder how many times the banks have been reshaped. How many times has silt pushed together to create new land or been pushed further down the stream to deepen the path.

Life has changes. Every day is different. I start with my calendar in place, noting the events, people, places and plans. It syncs up with my map and with materials gathered to take me through the day in a productive and orderly fashion. Yet, for all of my planning there can be a series of changes, small and large that completely move the course of a day from its expected path.

Ecclesiastes three talks about moving of things in our world happening at the time of God’s choosing. I read the words and the list below, a time for this change and that change; a time for this bank to be reformed, a time for that river to be depended. The words at the top though, those are a reassurance that in drought or flood, the everyday meanderings occur in God’s timing.

He is the drawer of the map, the definer of the river bank. I can rely on him to guide through the changes; letting me sit back and watch what unfolds.