Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Damaged by Katrina

City Officials of New Orleans issued a mandatory evacuation in the face of hurricane Katrina slamming the city. Even so, many people chose not to leave. At the time of this writing, there is no telling what the total damage or death toll will be just in the city of New Orleans, much less in the rest of the country, but many people must be wondering why someone would choose to ride out the storm.

After all, our society is bent toward survival. Our medical industry is driven to increase lifespan and health. Pop-culture worships youth and entices us to maintain at least the appearance of youthfulness. It is almost as though we believe, as a society, that survival is the greatest good.

Perhaps we can learn something from the desire many people have to ride out the storm as it hits rather than running away from it. They may have decided that they would rather stay with what they know and face difficulty than run from it. They may feel so tied to their communities, the shops, the churches, the schools, the neighborhoods, that they cannot imagine abandoning them, no matter what threatens. They might rather have their lives taken in the storm than run from it.

Many of those who left town will return to damaged, even destroyed homes, schools, and places of business. Many churches and community centers will have to be rebuilt, which will take years. Most of these places will never be “the way they used to be.” Some of these folk will adjust, grow, and successfully face the new lives ahead of them. Some of them will be lost in the disconnect from “the way things used to be.”

St. Paul wrote that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” For Christians, like St. Paul, survival in this life is not the greatest good – life with and in Christ is the greatest good. Whether those whose lives are lived in the path of Katrina stay and ride it out, or escape for a few days and weeks hoping to have something to which to return, I pray they all find in these days the reassurance and hope for eternity that only comes through Christ.

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