All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, SC
September 20, 2004
The five-day forecast on the National Weather Service web page has been very popular over the last six weeks for the Lindsey's in South Carolina and Florida, and for thousands everywhere. I am now tracking tropical storm Jeanne. This morning I can see from the five-day forecast that it is driving over the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and its prevailing direction has Jeanne heading for the Hilton Head area.
Over the last six weeks we have all witnessed the tremendous impact of storms forming somewhere in the southern Atlantic, sweeping through the Caribbean and continuing through large areas of the United States. In fact, at least two All Saints families have been severely affected by the wrath of hurricanes upon their family members in Florida and Grenada. In both cases -- terror, isolation, several hours of relentless wind and rain; in one case -- the utter destruction of homes and property, leaving family members homeless and seeking transitional shelter. Those stories can be multiplied in countless instances where people find the courage to live through such fury and have that wellspring of hope to begin anew, in spite of the destruction that surrounds them.
In conversations with my daughters and friends, in that ache in realizing that people have been and will continue to be in harms way, I have been led to count the blessings of God. Not that we have been spared up to this point, but rather in the stories of hope and love and courage. In one instance, property was utterly destroyed, but everyone in the family survived. In another, water surrounded the house, no electricity, and no access in or out for days, but as the sky cleared, the house remained and a family survived. In still another instance, friends living blocks from the Atlantic Ocean came home to palm trees snapped in two, a birdcage twisted into an odd shaped ball, shingles missing -- but they were alive to clear the debris. And they were thankful.
Even from a distance, I have been given a deeper appreciation that all that we have, whatever we have, whatever is left is a precious gift from God. Everything I have is mine to share with a gracious God.
The five-day forecast calls for uncertainty, and yet there is the reality that God gives us more than we can ever imagine, that God's love runs deep, and that God will never abandon us, in this life or in the age to come. The blessings of God are often very small and unseen by many. It is the person who sees beyond what the eyes see, who hears what the ears cannot hear, who is thankful when seemingly there is nothing to be thankful about, who trusts that all things are from God ... what we have, whatever we have, whatever is left.
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