2.26.2006 // We arrived in Slidell, Louisiana today after a nineteen-hour drive. My first impression of the area, stupidly, is that it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Messy, yes - but far less... what's the word? Dramatic. I feel bad for not feeling worse about the situation here. Then I tried to imagine what it would be like to look for the bodies of my family and neighbors among once-familiar environs. I could not, but I find the weight of the experience many of the people here have been through is begining to sink in. Lord, would You grace me with a heart that loves.
2.28.2006 // Took time to take in a 'family-friendly' Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans ("Nawlins") this morning. Amid organized chaos, I saw a people so critical of their own city. But under their blatant disdain runs a strong fraternal current. It reminded me of when I was younger - often, I would wreak havoc on my little brother and sister. That was my "right" as their older brother. But also because they are my family, anyone else who messed with them caught hell. I get that same sense from the folks of this city.
3.1.2006 // My hands bled a little as I worked on a house today. It made me think of Jesus the carpenter, the teacher, building something. It occured to me again this afternoon that fixing physical houses do not build spiritual ones (I'm finding this to be a metaphor not short of use round these parts). But physical houses is surely a start, an in-road. Jesus' hands surely bled more than mine. Lord, would You grace me with strong hands to serve.
3.2.2006 // I miss Katie and Caleb. I wonder what it would have been like for us if this was our town? Would we stay and rebuild, or move on? One thing is certain, though - I feel sharp here. There are no church politics, no glad-handing the 'powers that be', no hours sitting behind a desk. There is work - and plenty of it - and you simply go out and do it. The novacaine of northern Virginia has withdrawn, at least in part. This feels very close to where I once had been, in a different season. The lure of the field was at the forefront of my mind today.
Post Scriptum: I am encouraged to see that most of the relief effort here is through the Church.
Post Post Scriptum: I loves me some jambalaya.
3.3.2006 // It's cool to see life taking place in the communities here. Neighbors who once argued over their property lines or who never spoke at all are coming together. One guy told me today it was becoming difficult for him to look at the storm as a bad thing, simply because of the good that has come of it since. I praised God for making His glory known here.
3.4.2006 // Heading home. This place will cease to be reality for us (for now), but I pray the Lord won't simply let it rot to vague and distant memory. The longer I was here, the more I see how wrong my first impressions were about the damage not being so bad. Thing is, I came nearly completely focused on the external damage; the overturned cars, the misplaced furniture, the junk, the occasional missing wall or caved-in roof or blown-down tree. That damage is secondary to the fact that folks' lives - not just their stuff - have been deeply impacted by the hurricane. And now, as they rebuild, it is lives that matter, not simply houses and more junk that will be blown about by the next storm.
I wondered at first if what we were doing here - rebuilding houses - really matters. I know it did for at least two families. The amount of work and repair to be done seems incalculable, but but it is undeniable that God is at work here. His grace was shown to the world through a cross. His grace is shown to Louisiana through a storm. Lord, would you grace us with eyes to see and ears to hear - Your glory is all around.
PERSPECTIVES // diddy | stroud | allie | truitt | julia | shelley