I have been brought to tears on several occasions by the breath-taking coverage of Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm/Blizzard/Cyclone/N'Oereaster Sandy. Whatever her name, she has left her mark and one that won't be forgotten by an entire generation.
My heart aches for those, like too many before them, who awaken to a new normal that feels like a punch to the soul.
I was listening to one of the mayors plead for more of everything. Her people don't have enough fuel, enough food, enough water, enough sleep, enough warmth, enough assurance, enough dry footing, enough safety.....
Their world, as they knew it, has changed for good. From the moments the rain started Monday evening, life would forever be referred to as before Sandy and after.
I find the timing of this horrendous crisis so compelling, a week out from our election.
Our country has been so divisive, so hateful. So many of our people a driven, determined, defiant side to the same coin. Relentless commercials, one after another, each the polar opposite of the one before it. Each promising what the one before it screamed wrong, impossible, immoral or criminal.
And then along comes Sandy.
I couldn't help but wonder if that family on the top of their roof, freezing and wet and desperate, asked the first-responders paddling down their street to save them, what political party they belong to.
I wonder if, when that pregnant woman who was in labor and was being Med- Sledded down 7 floors of stairs in the dark having contractions thirty seconds apart, she politely refused the help of those not of her political preference.
I wonder if the parents, now relieved and horrified to be accepting donated clothes for their children because their house and their whole neighborhood burned down, made sure the clothes did not come from a kid of a different color, tax bracket, sexual orientation or religion as their own...
Why does it take a monster to reveal angels? I guess it's true that you need darkness in order to recognize what light is.
Why is it that our divisive governing bodies, who would disagree with the other side of the aisle over the colors the lawn, now are working together to ensure that the East Coast gets the help they need without red tape and tanglements?
Coming from one with such lousy memory capabilities, I'm looking around and realizing I'm not nearly the only one who can't seem to recall things....
We've been in this moment before.
Why does it take such extreme circumstance for people to lay down their weapons against each other and, instead, extend their hands to whomever is in need? Why does it take the blackness of night, the swell of a dark ocean, for us to help without first checking to read the labels?
When I donate money this week to the Red Cross, I'm not going to label it or earmark it for someone on the East Coast who shares my religious, moral or political beliefs. I'm sending it with prayers and hope that it helps maybe buy a sandwich for someone now hungry, sitting with a blanket on in the ruins of their home.
Shame on us for not integrating the feelings and the lessons of those crisis that have come before us. That, each time, we eventually return to the battling, hateful, bickering idiots on each side of the aisle of nonsense.
What Sandy reminds us is that at the end of the day, any day, there is nothing more important, more precious, than the opportunity to rise up. Out of the water, out of the darkness, out of the cold, out of the snow, out of the ashes....
Just to survive. Just to pull your family and pets and friends close again. To feel their hearts beat warm against the chill.
To be alive. To have shelter. To enjoy food and clean water. Warmth....
The rest of it simply piles up in splinters, in twisted unimaginable versions of yesterday.
And so then, when all seems lost... When where we called home is gone. Where we ate. Where we slept. Where we visited. Where we returned. Where we gathered. Where we created families. Where we worked. Where we vacationed. Where we felt safe....
When all that is gone...When good and right and light and warm seem a thousand miles away, both literally and figuratively...
We survive. We help others survive. We accept help and we give help. We look around and see where there is need and we are good and willing family members, neighbors and members of society. We do what we can with what we've got. We try to make things better. We help humans without condition. We join hands, we open hearts, we start over, we start somewhere, we move forward, and we thank God for the simple chance.....
For all of you on the East Coast, feel the warmth of countless prayers. From a nation, a world, humbled by your now. Your new.
Thank you. For amidst your unimaginable predicament, you have managed to inspire a nation to stop and recall what is right and what is light.
Real and generous and right and good and kind do not need the labels of the divisive. They are too good for that. They rise above such pettiness. Let's pray we all do.
For everyone there, my favorite quote:
Fight on, my merry men all, I'm a little wounded, but I am not slain; I will lay me down for to bleed a while. Then I'll rise and fight with you again.
- John Dryden
When nothing will ever be the same, maybe that is the moment when miracles happen....