As many of us watched in real-time as the two-mile-wide behemoth of a tornado bore down on Moore, Oklahoma, yesterday, I was reminded of another night many years ago when I, a small child, my brother and parents hunkered down in our basement as two tornadoes hit our neighborhood within 5 minutes of each other. There were no warning sirens, then; my mother had felt the wind pressing against the wall of the bedroom, and suspected something was about to happen.
I remember being awakened from sleep by my mother who scooped me up and hurried me downstairs. I remember the roaring sound and odd way the air pressure seemed to fluctuate as the storms neared. No rain, at first, but after the double hit, it started, and my parents baled out the basement bucket by bucket as my brother and I sat together in the dry part of the room.
The next day, the sun shone brilliantly on a neighborhood pock-marked by destruction. Across the street from us, all that was left of one house was the chimney. Next to it, another house sat, unscathed. We’d lost shingles, but not much else. Our neighbors said they’d looked outside and seen one of the tornadoes hover over our house, and then move on. Many others were not so fortunate; we walked around the block and saw building after building either destroyed or half-so.
As I think about the children caught up in the massive twister that ravaged Moore, I pray for them, their families, and those who lost loved ones. Even with the distance of seeing the scenes unfold on television instead, it is an excruciatingly painful scene. Yet, I also want to offer some words of hope.
I can look back on my experience weathering a tornado as a child, and I can say that, although I do have memories, I carry no scars. True, our house was spared. But it was what happened beyond that night that made the difference, I think. First, there was the knowledge of being protected by my parents. Second, there was the coming together of the community in the aftermath, the support, and the strength. Third, and not lastly, there was faith that carried on in the days and weeks afterward.
The tragedy of Moore, like Joplin, and other areas hit by natural disaster, is not to be taken lightly. The losses of life (and young life, in particular) are going to be felt for years to come. Yes, there will be much mourning. But what I remember from my childhood experience was the loss seen in sunlight and the work that commenced to rebuild. Nothing can change what has happened. But everyone can have a hand in the positive things that shall come.
Blessings for the day,