It took me over three hours to get to the church the morning after the tornado. I tried driving, but after two and a half hours of u-turns, I ditched four wheels for two and rode my bike. Words cannot begin to describe the devastation. Some houses were half gone, and power lines were toppled over, trees ripped to shreds, and yet not a life harmed. I could feel the energy of the storm and the human spirit that spilled over into the streets the morning after as neighbors checked in on one another. The morning after the storm, it didn’t matter what school sign was in your front yard or what political candidate you were endorsing; neighbors were neighbors, people belonged to one another.
That deep conviction led many of us to gather at the church throughout the week to spread love and support through cups of coffee and sandwiches. We may not have had our homes destroyed, we may not have been slinging the hammer or directing the chain saw, but we belonged to every person who was. I can see it so clearly now looking back on it, the fullest expression of the kingdom of God that many of us had ever glimpsed. It was the invitation all along and made manifest in the wake of great tragedy. I’ll pause here as I often do, and emphasize that God did not cause the tornado or the destruction. I believe God was in the new life of community, relationship, and neighborhood in the days that followed.
In many respects, it’s hard to believe that the tornado was only a year ago. We have been through a lot as a people these days, and frankly, I think we could use a healthy dose of remembrance. Remembering that in the darkest times, we are called to come together. That in the most painful of places; we need one another more than ever. In the midst of chaos, we find our way back to one another. The truth is, that was true even before the storm; the truth just happened to reveal itself.
So may we remember, and in our remembering, discover that truth is still waiting for us even now.