Thursday, February 7, 2008

Above the perfect line of floral wallpaper border, the clear, blue sky gaped in at me, as I stood, pouring hot coffee for a tornado refugee. I can still hardly believe the terrible damages I saw and heard. Fatalities, something very rare back in Tornado Alley, where I was born and grew up. Incidentally, we’d all had basements or storm shelters. Here a woman showed me her tiny, windowless bathroom, the only room still intact, and the blessed haven of seven bodies through the tornadoes that swept away so many homes Tuesday. I rejoiced to discover that she also had a more secure haven for her soul.

I’d barely finished running Mom’s errands when I answered a phone call from Audrey, asking if I could come help with Salvation Army relief out in the tornado zone. A short time later we were also joined by Mom, Josiah and Lydia and trooped out to the disaster area, laden with soup, cinnamon rolls and hot coffee and chocolate. If I’d known before-hand I’d have come decked out in worker-girl clothes and dived in to help clean-up. Instead I shuffled down debris crusted streets, offering food and drinks to refugees and workers alike. Since I don’t work for the Salvation Army, I feel at liberty to confide that I would have much rather walked in as a nobody and gotten dirty helping, than in an enormous logo-encrusted polo shirt, dancing around for publicity shots and trying to toss in that phrase “Salvation Army” so folks would know who their Good Samaritan was while toting luke-warm coffee and hot chocolate to folks who’ve already had lunch. And I found myself shying away from the half a dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters who were there only for the story. Caleb, one of my gradeschool-age accomplices was snagged by KARK 4 for a live interview. “Hold up your donuts like you’re proud of them!” the exuberant reporter instructed him. Then he wiped the enthusiasm from his face, replacing it with a feigned sympathy for the poor, poor people who had lost so much. He’d even duded himself up in waders for the occasion—didn’t he just look the part? What a lot of good was hampered by those rat-sniffing media moguls and competing charities. That’s right: competing charities. Well-meaning charities who help people so that people would see what they’re doing and give them more money so they can go help more people. We’ve fallen so short of the left hand unaware of the right hand’s doing.

Lord, teach me to serve and give,
To take my life and truly live
In sacrifice before Thy throne
That Thou might claim my deeds Thine own.

Teach my lips to speak, my eyes
To shed the tears Thy Spirit cries.
Thou loved the world through Thy Son.
Love through me, O Holy One.

No comments: