Monday, May 23, 2011

Encouraging Words When Tragedy Strikes by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

Tornadoes don't happen in the mountains.  Ask anybody.  The weather in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, where I live, promises to be the safest on earth.  Our weather is tempered by the mountains we love, and though we are not as high as the Rockies, when tornadoes infrequently touch down, they are swiftly sent packing up the next slope, and into the sky.  That's the way it's always been until now.

It happened late at night, when the powerful tornadoes swept through Alabama, and five other states, my community, in southwest Virginia, was the only thing standing in their way.  One. Two. Three. Four tornadoes, raced past the Tennessee/Virginia border and into the small town of Glade Spring.  Then they hit Chilhowie, and barreled on.  But the greatest destruction remained in Glade Spring, along with a tragic loss of life.

It chills me to realize that we are talking about life and death.  Their community, just like ours.  Their homes, just like ours.  Their families, just like ours. Their hopes and dreams, shattered, just as ours would be.  Their grief was so palpable that it tore through my heart, as I realized it could have been me.  It could have been my house flattened, as we slumbered in our beds.  It could have been my family, and my husband gone.

"No man is an island, entire of itself," wrote the great Churchman and poet, John Donne, "every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

So, for those of us who fared well, who woke up the following morning and wondered who is going to mow my grass?  I hope we remember to thank God that is was not us.  I hope we remember well, that a powerful, uncontrollable natural disaster just may come our way, and if it does, I pray that all are living near a town, just like Glade Spring.

Before the night was over, the rescue sirens were blaring, and every volunteer was on his way.  That means half of three counties.  Betty Blevins was pulled from the wreckage by young hands who wrapped her in their shirts and jackets to keep her from going into shock.  While one stayed to comfort, the rest moved on to others and everyone, believe me, everyone showed up.

The next day, people took vacations to help with the clean-up, and it didn't take long, with hundreds of volunteers, to uncover what was left.  Nothing.  Nothing except prayers, tears, and a hand to hold.  FEMA refused aid, because the cleanup was so fast.  We couldn't possibly need help, because we had so many volunteers, and it was up to the Churches to move in and rebuild. Wow.  So the Churches have stepped in, as they always do, and local aid agencies of every scope, and when donations were requested, empty cupboards and pockets dug deeper still to find enough to share and to heal.

You see, it doesn't take much money to bind the wounds of a small town.  It doesn't make much press.  It merely takes a heart.  So, if in the future it is your life that is wounded, I pray that you are near a town like Glade Spring, as I am, where binding up wounds is not just what they do, but it is who they are.

Be My Rescue
  by Jaye Lewis

Oh Lord, please be my rescue
Amidst the encircling gloom;
Be my Savior in the nighttime;
In the morning and at noon.

Lord, be with me at evening,
And at the break of day,
In terror and in safety,
Please Lord, show me the way.

Forgive me all my anger
At the injustice of a few,
When many share my sorrow,
May they too, Lord, be with You.

Please help me to remember
The blessings of Your grace,
And when I meet a stranger,
May I then, too, see Your face.

 I love You, Lord, I love You.
I'm not worthy of Your love;
As I ponder all my blessings,
I know they're surely from above.

Loving kindness from the Father!
Grace and blessings from the Son.
Peace and mercy from the Spirit;
Each is separate, yet One.

May He always be your rescue,
May His name be on your tongue.
May you know Him as your brother,
May He love you as a son.

Bless each and every person
Who calls upon Your name.
May You light and guide each pathway,
Banish all their fears away.
© Jaye Lewis, 2011

For those who read this message, I pray that it falls upon compassionate ears.  Please give what you can to the suffering.  Know that long after you read this, and the cable news has forgotten, that the suffering still goes on.  Dig down deep, I pray, for except by the grace of God, it might be you.
To those who are suffering, who have lost homes, loved ones, and yes, pets, please know that countless numbers of souls have stormed heaven with their prayers, reached deep into their pockets, and that you are not, precious ones, alone.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

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