As I sat curled up under the covers with my hubby Monday night with Irma whipping angrily at my north Georgia home, tearing away shingles from our roof and blowing so hard that water dripped from the corners of our windows, there was this underlying feeling deep in my bones that shouted, “Screw you Irma!”
Flashes of memories raced through my mind of when my hometown in Cabot, Arkansas was literally blown away by tornadoes. Lives were lost and the whole downtown was demolished. That was over 40 years ago.
Where was my dad? My mom, sister and I raced to our little town of 4,000, looking for him. I felt so disoriented when walking around the town rubble I looked up to see my Uncle Michael. “What was he doing here?” I asked myself. He lived 40 minutes away in North Little Rock. I felt completely confused.
What Michael told me is still burned into my memories. He said that he had heard on the news that a tornado was heading to Cabot and got in the car, racing to help us. But once he made it to the Cabot exit, the National Guard stopped him in his tracks and told him no cars were allowed beyond that point. So he got out and walked the long road to town…in search of us. I sit in tears, once again, remembering this profound moment that would forever change my life.
It was in that moment that I saw the heart of the human spirit. And that was just the beginning. The Cabot folks pulled together like I had never seen before. Crews worked through the night hunting for bodies and to clear the rubble. My mom, sister and me worked hour upon hour making sandwiches with the Salvation Army. That was the first time I ever truly felt what it meant to give to something bigger than me. What an awakening for a middle school kid! Thankfully, daddy was okay. He had gone to tell his neighbors next to his real estate office to take cover right before the tornado demolished everything 50 yards in front of him. The last thing he said he remembered was a boat flying over his head.
It was one year later that Cabot celebrated with a “Cabot, we’re back!” theme. That small hometown made an incredible impression on me. It showed me that no matter what happens, the human spirit would prevail.
And it continues to do so now. The vast majority of our small community here in the mountains of north Georgia are proving to have hearts of gold, too, after Irma tore through here. Trees are down everywhere and thousands are without power. For many of us, not only do we not have power, but we also don’t have running water. But just like I witnessed in Cabot, as soon as daylight hit Tuesday morning after the storm, neighbors were out cutting away trees from our roads and from people’s homes. Last night, some “smart” neighbors with a generator invited my hubby and me into their home for a wonderful steak dinner and showers.
I love the human spirit. I love how a tragedy like Irma or Harvey helps us remember that we are all in this together.
So, screw you Irma! Screw you Harvey!
You cannot beat the human spirit. What I know for sure is that people are already coming together and will continue to do so. People will awaken to what really matters. Torn relationships will heal, and so will people’s homes and businesses. Hearts will explode open.
Right now we see division and separation in our country. Is it possible these terrible catastrophes are happening to bring us together? Are they here to show us that we can overcome our differences and work together? I think so.
If you’re ready for a reprieve from this week’s stress and would like a little wisdom and entertainment, please join Terri for her new radio show, Leading with Love. Join her Thursday at 3 pm EST, 12 noon PST. Just click the link to listen live.