The U.S. was hit by a record-breaking wave of hurricanes in the late summer and early fall of 2017 that devastated parts of Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. Fr. Mike La Lone, whose parish is in Wilton Manors, Florida, endured Hurricane Irma and posted on his experience in real time.
I feel like a Who in the story of Horton who is able to see past the profane into the sacredness of life and puts his life at risk to share the story of the Who with those who will listen, of which there are none, then there are many.
As I watched the people line up for shelters, the line from the movie that played in my head was “We are here.” In the frustration and the fear felt and heard from those waiting for shelter, all I could hear was we are here, we are here, but the shelter was nowhere near.
My heart goes out to those who spent the day in the hot sun waiting to find respite from the storm. And though I walk through the shadow of death, We are here. The huge storm like the clover blossom will cover the state, the National Guard, the Red Cross reaching out but not hearing, the crowd crying out we are here.
And we are here. I sit in the calm before the storm wondering if the cries will be heard, how many we will lose if we are not heard. The angels will work overtime today to both protect those they can, but also to lead those who are not heard to the gates of heaven.
And yet there will be those who harm the soul when the say things like “this is God’s retribution.”
As the world around me changes, I cannot imagine what the town will look like after the storm passes, as the winds and the rains take their toll. Will my house survive or will the house and my love, my pets and my friend, end up in OZ? What will the devastation bring?
In Texas after the aftermath we saw the best of humanity, helping each other. Will it be the same here? Will some senseless human being who thinks they are God declare that it is God’s revenge, God’s retribution? Those narcissistic preachers who are supposed to preach love and the gentle touch of caring for each other often blaspheme against God when they say it’s God’s revenge. They show me they do not know God when they preach hate and play God, when they say this is God’s revenge! They see themselves as more than human, but they hurt the soul, the gateway to the kingdom, when singling out a person because of their identity, no matter what that identity be.
But I digress. The storm is a few hours away and I am reminded that I am both insignificant and significant. I am but a small speck in the cosmos, but can reach out and impact those I love and those I do not know in prayer and in service to the community. I preach God’s love, I preach hospitality which I believe is the cornerstone of Christianity and many other religions. Today I pray that the angels of the heavens reach down and touch you, touch your heart and soul, protect and guide you. May the blessing of God come to fruition in your life! This is the first post during this time but not the last. Keep safe.
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Power was restored to the house on Friday 9/15/17; it left us the previous Saturday the 9th at 4:30 am. Cold showers are not my cup of tea, neither was the heat and humidity that we had for 6 days.
As we rode out the storm several different thoughts came to mind from Charlie Brown.
I remember a segment where Lucy gets a candle saying it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness; her candle went out and she cursed the darkness. I can so relate. And did I ever curse the darkness when the candle was out and I ran into the corner of the table!
Another inspiration was “happiness is a warm puppy.” It was true. I have three dogs who kept me company through the storm. The two older ones were a bit more subdued (mostly due to the heat) but the puppy wanted to play and wanted to sleep touching me. He is laying behind me as I write this.
The third thought was of Psalm 23. Though I was not fearing the darkness of the shadows of death, I realized that the shadows of darkness, both the physical darkness and the darkness of fear that came from not knowing what would happen, helped me to go through the shadow of death and come out with a new perspective on letting go, surrendering, and feeling the force of God within as the storm raged on. This led to a quite centered space that helped me remain at peace during the hours the storm raged. I could go on for hours and hours but want to keep this short. I pray that each of you who reads this finds the peace of being centered in God. I pray that each of you finds that special pet or person that gives you happiness, and I pray that the light of salvation illuminates your heart so that you never have to curse the darkness of being alone in this big universe.
Fr. Mike La Lone
St. Mary’s ANCC (Wilton Manor, FL)