And so it begins again.
Thursday, we were able to get back into to the Rectory via a make shift bridge over a gully. A group of two adults and three teenagers began the reclamation process of St. Mary’s rectory.
Thanks to the hard work of a group of parishioners early this past Sunday morning, all of my furniture except a couch was safely upstairs. Many other of my personal items had been carried upstairs or placed on counters which we thought would be high enough to avoid flood waters. I’d placed a few important clothes on the top shelf of my closet. Strong folks had put my car up on risers.
We had been as prepared as we could be. But we were not expecting five feet of water to enter my home.
This time, many of my personal items, everything we thought was safely placed on counters and in closets, were taken by flood waters. These were things perhaps most important to me which I had kept downstairs to be near when I moved back home this summer. Things I thought had been made safe, but this second time around didn’t make it through the flood. These were things that had less financial value but ever so much more heart value.
When people say they have lost “just stuff”, it is true. It’s important to know, however, that each item of stuff holds a memory–some small, some very, very large.
Remember that. Every memory will need a moment to have it’s time of grief and a word of good bye.
Remember that if you are someone who has lost precious items. They represent a part of your life that you must grieve.
Remember that if you are one of the extraordinary people who is helping to clean out ravaged homes. Each item tossed in the front yard or placed in a garbage bag or put in a dumpster is a little good bye for the person you are caring for. When you drive by people’s homes with their front yard covered in what to untrained eyes appears as trash and refuse, remember what that is was once not trash or refuse. It represents a life.
For me, it’s a tote bag of yarn. The tote bag was given to me to hold my knitting by a man in a shop on the Isle of Iona. It contained a scarf I was knitting as a memory of my trip to Iceland.
Another tote bag that was given to me as a souvenir of the Four Voices concert in June. A famed photograph of my father and me. A framed photograph of my extended family at Thanksgiving. A water color of a priest baptizing people in a river.
Over four hundred books. Books written by my daughter and my father. Books given to me by friends and family. Books I use to write sermons and to prepare for ministry. Most of my cookbooks. The Bible given to me at my ordinations.
Art created by my grandchildren. The plants I’d saved and restored after the last flood.
The monetary value is small. The heart value is beyond measure.
This is what you or the people you love have lost.
It’s just stuff. Indeed. But it’s stuff tied back to a place in their heart. My heart. Your heart.
Yes, we are alive. Thanks be to God. Yes, much can be replaced. For people like me, of resources and privilege.
But there are heart wounds that will take time, much time to heal.