Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops… at all. – Emily Dickinson
Onahama, Tuscaloosa and Joplin are towns we now speak about with heavy hearts. When the year started, the people who live in these small towns probably couldn’t imagine the destruction heading their way. Either could we.
These towns are no longer nondescript places on a map. These towns have become places that are anchoring our souls together.
The people of Japan now know about the small towns in the United States named Piedmont, Reading, Tuscaloosa and Joplin. Americans now know about the village on Japan’s northeast coast.
The world now knows about all of these small towns. And the world knows each one is filled with supernatural hope.
Scattered among the debris are the signs of this new kind of hope; a supernatural hope that is moving the human spirit to do something wonderful – we are finally learning to take care of each other like family.
Closer to home
Earlier this week Kansas City appeared to be in the path of a similar disaster. My office received the order to evacuate and seek shelter in a lower stairwell. We calmly walked to the elevators and descended seven floors to the lobby.
Once there, I saw people sharing their Smartphones to help spread the word about the approaching danger. After making sure my group was safely tucked away, I headed outside to get a better signal on my phone.
The approaching storm was creating interference with the cell towers. I was able to speak with Andrew before my phone became useless. Knowing he was safe made me feel better, but I still could not reach Mary Beth. Even more upsetting, Emily was on a field trip where the storm was heading next.
Standing in the breezeway between the office building and parking garage, I was scared, vulnerable and feeling hopeless. These things aren’t supposed to happen to family, I thought.
But today it was happening.
I pressed Mary Beth’s number 20 times in a row. The display said the phone was dialing; but it never connected.
With the tornado sirens still sounding, I made the decision to go back upstairs. The land line in my office provided the connection back to my wife. Mary Beth told me she was safe. Emily was safe, too. Our daughter used a friend’s phone to call her mom.
We made it through this storm.
Witnessing a supernatural hope
After finishing the call with my wife, I looked outside. I wanted to see if more danger was on the way. The sky was still dark, but the winds had calmed down. The worse was over.
With my heart still racing, I had to remind myself that what just happened was real. I didn’t just see it on television. I lived it.
The most upsetting thing during those 10 minutes wasn’t evacuating the office or seeing people standing shoulder to shoulder in a stairwell. The most upsetting thing was not being able to reach Mary Beth and Emily.
I felt hopeless.
My steady confidence was shaken. The realization of what just happened made me ill because I could feel its immense size – and that scared me.
Later that evening and after the adrenaline had stopped running through my body, I watched the news to see which parts of my town were impacted. After the coverage of Kansas City’s storm was over, attention returned to the other parts of the world.
The hope I’ve seen the past several months has been humbling. I’ve seen people who have lost everything turn their attention to their neighbor. I’ve seen strangers embrace and hold each other. But more than anything, I have seen a supernatural hope come to life.
We may never know why these disasters happen, but we can know one thing for certain – when the worse does happen our souls are becoming anchored together with a hope that is stronger than any tornado or earthquake could ever pull apart.
Realizing this supernatural hope tells me the world isn’t coming to an end; it’s just giving us an opportunity to treat each other a little better and with a little more love.
I kissed my family good night before going to bed. As I kissed Mary Beth, Andrew and Emily I thought of Brandon and Caitlin. Once in bed, I closed my eyes and imagined kissing the rest of my family – the ones who live in Onahama, Tuscaloosa and Joplin and everyplace in between.