Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Shining Face of Faith

I recently got an email from a Pearlington resident, asking me - out of frustration and weariness - to assure her that everything would be all right. My reply to her included this:

"I wish I could wave my wand and make everything all right. But I cannot - only God can. I do know this: the Universe was not created to punish us - we all do a good enough job at that ourselves. I ask you to have faith - belief without evidence - and trust that things will, in the end, be as they should."

Those of us who have, over the many months, watched this recovery unfold are very clear about something. There is magic afoot in Pearlington. Too many times, thousands now, when we needed something to get the job done, it has shown up at exactly the right time. Serendipity, synchronicity, coincidence, happenstance - they are words that seem to speak of unguided occurrence but are, in fact, descriptions of how God works.

So what is this faith we possess that convinces us that things are unfolding as they should?

Faith is such an easy concept to speak of and such a difficult one to live. As a therapist, I’m frequently surprised by how many Christians speak of it in hushed and reverent sentences, yet live lives devoid of its reassurance and comfort. Faith is the antithesis of control and control is an illusion. We are not in control of anything - just ask the people of Pearlington.

Faith is not an intellectual nor religious concept. It is an emotional and spiritual way of life, a way of being in the world. It understands that NOTHING is random, that all has a purpose and that purpose is to call us to our highest place as individuals and to our highest common denominator as a species. It allows and accepts change - even catastrophic change - as part of our Creator’s plan to call us to that place.

Have we responded?

I have watched the great majority of volunteers in Pearlington work their way to that place. C.O.D.R.A. is not a political nor even a practical device; I created it as a symbol of that unity, that highest common place of spirit in which we reach out in service. In the process, most of us have empowered our own lives in ways and areas that the people of Pearlington may never truly know nor understand the loving nature of their gift to us.


Yesterday, I found the blog of a group of young people from near Seattle who are currently serving in Pearlington. Go there, click on the group picture from Monday, July 24th’s posting and examine their beautiful, shining faces and read their words. Their excitement and dedication; their innocence and willingness to serve is the gift Katrina provides. If this is the future, we are indeed in good hands. Never mind the kids who seem to be frittering away their youth - look at the ones who are making a difference, in other’s lives and in their own.

And what of the folks of Pearlington who have "lost all?"

Many tell me their faith has been restored by our determination and commitment. Some will have homes better than the ones destroyed. Some have been required to examine the meaning of their lives closely and to make life-altering decisions. Some have reached out to help neighbors they didn’t know or cared much existed before the storm. Some have found their own place of service.

Most importantly, THEY ARE ALIVE, in the truest sense of that word. They are awake and conscious and aware of what matters most to them. How many Katrinas, how many tsunamis, how many Iraqs and Lebanons will have to happen before we ALL wake up to what is real and valuable in the world? We are brothers and sisters in spirit and we are all in this together. None of us is going anywhere until we all are ready to go - together, arms linked, heads held high, skidding into Heaven with a hearty "Ya-hoo!"

Katrina isn’t the worst thing that ever happened. Hate, anger, apathy, bigotry and loneliness far exceed her toll. Let’s not wrestle with Katrina. Let’s dance with her and receive her gifts.

They are gifts from God.

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