I am typing these words on September 5, 2017. I thought I would provide that information for a couple of reasons. Neither of those reasons has anything to do with the fact that this particular date has any monumental significance. First, since I do not know when this will actually appear online, I thought it would be appropriate to provide a kind of “time stamp” for my thoughts.
I also provided that date because, as I type these words, Hurricane Harvey is beginning to “do a slow fade” from the news headlines. That “slow fade” has actually taken place in a relatively short time.
It has only been eleven days since Harvey hit the coastline of Texas. Many of us watched repeated reports of the devastation it caused and the impact it had in so many ways on the lives of thousands of people. News reports about the physical, social, and emotional devastation caused by Harvey dominated the headlines, alerts, and updates for days.
During the last couple of days, our attention has turned, at least in part, to Hurricane Irma. We are being told that this storm could also have a major impact on parts of our nation. People are watching, waiting, praying, and preparing.
So, as I type these words, it might be said that I am doing so in somewhat of a lull between two (possible) devastating situations. As I sit in the safety and security of my house which has not been affected at all (except for some fairly heavy rain that occurred rather briefly), I am thinking about some “life lessons” suggested by all of this.
I will begin my comments about those “life lesson” with a report I saw on the news this morning. The reporter began by saying, “The rains have stopped in Houston, but the flooding has not.” According to him, he was in a part of Houston that was especially hard hit by Harvey.
There was no water anywhere to be seen. The sun was shining. Harvey was gone. The reporter assured those of us watching that there were still flood waters not far from where he was standing.
Some of the effects of Harvey were clearly evident where he was, though. There were piles of clothing, furniture, etc. outside the house that was serving as a “backdrop” to his report. Some of these items were there to be collected as trash. Some, hopefully, were salvageable and usable.
Some of the effects of Harvey were not quite as evident. These did not become evident until the reporter interviewed the lady who owned the house. I did not know until the lady said during the interview that she was still without power eleven days after Harvey came ashore. I did not know that the vehicle in the background was not hers. She said it had been loaned to her by a friend. I’m not sure if she said, but the clear implication at least was that her vehicle was a “victim” of Harvey. I did not know a lot of things about how a major hurricane was still having an impact on this person’s life eleven days after the initial damage was done until I heard what she had to say and saw the signs of fatigue for myself.
It is no exaggeration to say that this lady is literally trying to pick up the pieces of her life. She is also figuratively trying to pick up the pieces of her life. The hurricane had an impact on her and on thousands of others that has nothing to do with mortar, machinery, or money.
Thousands and thousands of lives will never be the same. Some relationships have ended because of death. Others have been changed in ways which would be difficult for many of us to imagine.
As I type these words, I am doing so five hours or so after I saw the report on television. I’m wondering where that reporter is now. Do you think that he is still with that lady? Is it not more likely, that he has moved on to another story? After all, he probably has some responsibilities himself to turn in a certain number of reports on some sort of schedule. He could even be assigned to get ready in case he needs to report on whatever happens due to Hurricane Irma.
I’m thinking that this little segment of the news and some questions it raises in my mind might have a wider application than merely one man’s thoughts about something he saw on television. I’m wondering if this doesn’t demonstrate how we react to many things in our lives.
As we go about our lives, some things that were in the forefront of our minds at one time may begin to fade. We might have been very concerned and even involved at one time, but that seems to no longer be the case. Our attention has gradually and almost imperceptibly shifted to other things.
Do you remember that dear brother or sister who lost his or her spouse? Do you remember how concerned and involved you were at the time? When was the last time you visited, called, sent a card, or even prayed for that person?
What about the family that suffered the loss of a parent, sibling, or child? Were you concerned about them immediately after that loss? Are you still concerned? Do they know that you are still concerned?
What about the person who is dealing with some very serious health issues? Were you not almost as devastated as he or she was when they first learned about the situation? Did you go out of your way to try to assist in any way you could? Did you tell them that you’d keep checking on them?Have you done so?
Do you remember those two people were about to get a divorce? Did you spend hours and material resources to try to help them? Have you asked how things are going lately? Do you know how things are going? Do you care as much now as you did “early on?”
Maybe you know somebody who actually got a divorce. He or she did not want one, but it happened. Did you do sort of “go the extra mile” early on in order to let him or her know that you cared? Have you done that lately?
I think you get the idea. I know I do. I know that I needed this reminder as much as (maybe more than) anybody else.
This reminder may be especially needed for those of us who may not be directly involved in a particular situation. After all, there are other things going on in “our world.” We each have our own relationships, bills to pay, trips to plan, jobs to fulfill, hobbies to enjoy, etc. The “shorthand” way of saying this, I guess, is that “we have our own lives to live.”
While I’m living my life, I need to remember the difference between the initial effects of a devastating life event and the long-term effects. The initial impact could be in the distant past. The long-term effects may never completely go away.
As I sit in my comfortable house in Kentucky and feel no immediate or long-term effects of Harvey (except for a little extra rain), I need to remember that others were not so fortunate. As I listen to the concern for those who may be in the path of Irma, once again, I have no reason to believe that I will be directly affected.
However, there are people all around me who would trade what they have experienced – and are experiencing – for a hurricane any day. I need to do a lot better job of trying to keep the “slow fade” from happening as I relate to them.
I know that I am editing the television reporter’s statement a little, but the message is still the same. I need to be aware of the fact, that, in so many areas of the lives of so many people –
The rains have stopped, but the flooding has not.
AUTHOR: Jim Faughn