Today in the yard, in 84 degrees (a cold snap for August!) watering the dying ground cover, I thought, "the hurricane lilies will be here, soon!" And then I re-remembered what day it is. August 29, 2009.
My church has adopted an Episcopal church in Mississippi. We are among 7 churches who will be "officially" helping Trinity Church, Pass Christian (I'm sure there are many others!). I would link to their website, but it's gone right now. Here is a link to another great site with info on the history of the church and some photos.
The church building, also, is gone right now. They have some frame left of the sanctuary, but I understand that the Parish Hall and Christian Ed building are completely gone. This is a church that has been ministering in Pass Christian for 156 years, and was completely destroyed by Hurricane Camille in 1969. They rebuilt it in 1971. Wasn't it beautiful:
and it will be again! Note that I do not say that the church is gone, because it's surely there, my friends.
We are collecting specific items: underwear, cleaning supplies, canned food, etc. ...and a group from the church will road trip over there to take it. I want to go with! Ken and I hope to be able to drive the motor home -- we can take some other people that way, too. Hopefully we'll also be able to do some work with the folks there, as well.
AND, AND, maybe I could even see St. Casserole if she's home? I don't think she's too far from there...... :)
Just now, I woke up from a nightmare about being in the aftermath of a hurricane (not the storm itself). Slogging around all the time in the mud and the tremendous destruction. I became angry at Brandon because he was wasting food (realize that this may have more to do with my own food issues than with a hurricane!) When I woke up, my arms ached from squeezing a pillow.
But here's the thing:
I woke up.
And as we know, thousands of folks in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama wake up each day from their nightmares - to more nightmares.
Two days ago I was driving up Malone Street and saw something that caused my heart to smile - briefly. I said to myself, "Oh! The Hurricane lilies are here!" And in the next instant I realized that, from now on, hurricane lilies will, from now on, mean Hurricane Katrina to me, and I cried again.
I had some in the yard of our old house, but not at this house. I love them for their riotously baroque delicacy and beauty, and for their announcement of fall - scattered amid the falling leaves that begin to carpet lawns at this time of year. They come up entirely unexpectedly, with no leaves first, so all of a sudden, one day, there they are. And they naturalize, so they come up in places you didn't anticipate, either. I bet they are appearing in the destroyed yards across the Gulf Coast now, too, where the wreckage permits.
Is it stretching things too far to think that perhaps the lilies are like the small blessings that are popping up in the lives of our friends affected by this tragedy? And maybe a reminder that there will be beauty at the other end?
I don't know. But I do know that I need to get some, to remember every year. Maybe I'll go down the street tomorrow, and ask the sweet lady with so many if I could dig a few.
This morning Ken & I went to church. All was well with me as we rehearsed and vested. But when the choir processed in, singing "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation," it just flew all over me. How could we do it? How could we be clean and well dressed and happy, air conditioned and fed and worshipping? when so many churches are gone, so many people are drowned in their homes, so many are suffering untold misery?
During Morning Prayer September 1 at Virginia Theological Seminary, Lonnie Lacy, a senior M.Div student, offered the following collect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina:
God of all mercy, in the beginning your Holy Spirit brooded over the waters of the deep and turned chaos into life: Send that same life giving Spirit, we pray, to the displaced people of the Gulf Coast, that they may be delivered out of the waters of their own chaos and brought into safety; provide them with adequate medicine, dry shelter, and warm food; stand watch with those who are still alive yet remain unrescued, that their lives may be spared and their perseverance may not be in vain; bless all who are working to bring relief and rescue, that their coming in and their going out may be safe, fruitful, and secure; and finally, hear us as we commend to you those souls who faced Hurricane Katrina but could not survive her torment. In our common humanity, we cry out "kyrie eleison" through Jesus your Son, the Christ of compassion. Amen.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.