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We are at our best . . .

I went on the BBC website last night and the story at the top of the page was about the 23 people killed by a tornado in Lee County, Alabama. It was weird to see news about the place where we live on the website. The world seemed to know as much about what happened in our back yard a few hours ago as we did.

Yesterday afternoon we had experienced the usual weather warnings that we see several times a year. It had been unseasonably warm, so I don’t think anyone was surprised. The storm was intense and fast moving. When it was over there were some pictures of places damaged (as there always are) but I didn’t hear any immediate report of fatalities.

Janice and I drove to the church building a little before 4:00 so she could participate in a wedding shower. At the shower she learned that an employee who worked for one of our members had his house destroyed and child killed. Another woman told me that one of the ladies she worked with had lost her young girl. Our congregation is about 200 members, so the fact that we had connections to two people who had died in the storm didn’t bode well for a low number of casualties.

By the time we were home from church, the death total was at 14 and it had swollen to 23 when I went to sleep. It is Monday afternoon as I write this and I just got off the phone with a friend who was part of the day long search for more victims. Fortunately, none were found but he told me he wasn’t sure they were finished. There are still people who are unaccounted for.

There is a bright side to all of this. I’m 62 and can’t think of a time in my life when people were more responsive to disasters then they are now. We’ve had calls from all over the country offering help. Some are sending supplies, some are giving money, and others are coming to put feet on the ground. I’m not sure whether we’re more overwhelmed by the generosity or the logistics of trying to coordinate all of these things. After all, who can really prepare for something like this?

Something else happened yesterday. Approximately 250 miles above the earth, the SpaceX capsule (The Crew Dragon), the first American commercial space vehicle designed to carry humans, docked with the International Space Station. One of the Americans in the space station, Anne McClain, officially welcomed the unmanned capsule with these words:

                        Our sincere congratulations to all earthlings who have enabled the

                        opening of this next chapter in space exploration. Spaceflight gives

                        us a chance to reflect on the context of our existence. We are reminded

                        that we are human before any of our differences, before all of the lines

                        that are drawn to divide us. And we are reminded that we are at our

                        best when we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

It’s interesting that the words spoken to commemorate the breaking of barriers in outer space apply equally as well on earth. We are at our best when we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Lord, please be with the people of these communities as they deal with devastation, bury loved ones and grope for courage to face the future. May your healing hands be present in the people who come to help and share their pain. In the name of Him who was no stranger to suffering. Amen.

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