Destruction, tears, and an epiphany

On Monday I stood in the cleaning product aisle of the grocery store and almost wept.

I was overwhelmed, heart-broken, and teetering on the brink of hopeless.

In my basket were a few cleaning supplies I’d grabbed off the shelf. I was shopping for the people in my beloved former hometown, Wimberley. A call had gone out for cleaning supplies to help the many people displaced by huge flooding on Sunday. Over 70 homes were completely destroyed by a 44-foot wall of water coming down the Blanco River, and over 300 homes seriously damaged. All this in a very tiny area of Hays County.

As I stood remembering the images of the damage: entire neighborhoods destroyed, whole houses floating down the river with families still inside of them, 8 dead and 13 still missing, 1,000 people displaced in a town of 2,500, I felt like I was drowning a the sea hopelessness — this is too big, six bottles of Lysol extra strength cleaner is not going to help anything, I can’t make a difference in this sea of sorrow.

Then my friend threw me a life line.

“Every drop counts,” she said. 

Suddenly my whole world shifted again. I realized that the flooding rivers that had taken so much from so many in such a short amount of time was created one raindrop at at time. And that what would help was each of us being a single drop and coming together to create a tsunami of healing and support.

The world has plenty of despair, tons of tragedies, and an abundance of need.

And it also has plenty of helping hands, tons of willing hearts, and an abundance of love.

Where was I going to put my attention?

So I bought what I could at the time, using my intuition to guide me. Rags and gloves. Toothbrushes. Tampons. Soap.

And every time the voice of despair and hopelessness threatened to rise, I turned my attention to being another drop of help and heart and love.

Life can be overwhelming at times. You don’t have to fix all of it. Just be the drop that you are. Do what you can. Remember that you are part of 7 billion other drops of possible compassion, healing, and skills.  Where you put your attention can change everything.

Later in the day as we sorted through thick mud, wet carpeting, and soaked, scattered CDs, books, and pictures at my friends’ house, I felt the preciousness of life, and how quickly things can change. Within about 10 minutes, at aroundmidnight, Shiila and Dan’s cute cabin went from next to the creek to being part of the creek and nearby river. Luckily they were awake and decided to check on the river. Luckily they went out the front door and not the back, where they would have been swept away. Luckily they were able to abandon their car when it got waterlogged as they fled and were able to walk through waist deep water to safety. 

As I marveled that two pictures of their grandkids and one drawing on the fridge seemed completely unaffected while so many other pictures in the mud and mess beneath my feet were destroyed, Shiila shared the peach story.

When Shiila and Dan came back to their home after the waters had receded and opened the door they were greeted by a swirl destruction: overturned furniture, soggy papers, pictures, and items everywhere, a water line on the wall six feet up, and a single peach from the kitchen that had floated and come to rest by the front door. Shiila and Dan looked at each other, smiled, washed off the peach, and had a peach moment, eyes closed, taking in the sunshine and juice and goodness of that peach. 

Then they got to work saving everything they could in the two hour window before the next storm came.

In these situations the magnitude of their loss: their business computer, their cell phones, the ruined books they had just published, their two cars is a small drop compared to the oceanic gift of their lives.

I’m weeping now, sitting in my office at Toci, feeling so grateful for community, for resiliency, for love. I’m crying for the unmet needs and all the shared kindness, for all that was lost and all that was found. My prayer is that these tears let my heart get bigger to hold the both the tragedy and the beauty of life. 

May we always remember the power of the drop that we each are. Let’s continue to come together in any way we can to create a flood of yes, to be the hands that wash off the mud, to be the volunteer who kindly asks the stranger at the shelter who has lost everything what she needs, to be the person who donates food, bottled water, clothes, whatever we can to fill up an entire high school gymnasium with help. 

Because every drop counts.


From Shiila’s FaceBook page: This picture is of Cypress Creek. Dan took it 5 years ago. Now the water takes all. The creek flooded our house – you can see the water mark 6 feet up on the wall. We had a laugh at the cosmic humor of this irony. Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

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