For the past several years my parents, aunts and uncles have met for lunch whenever it’s time for someone’s birthday. June 30th was my parents fifty-ninth wedding anniversary (congratulations, Mom and Dad!) and July 1st is my Aunt Linda’s birthday so the get-together took place today. Since I’m on vacation this week, I was able to join the group. This time there was a break in the normal tradition of meeting at a restaurant – instead we all prepared a dish or two to pass and went to my Uncle George’s house, where an F1 tornado hit on June 23, 2015.
There was no mistaking the path the tornado had taken. A huge walnut tree was down in the side yard and there were trees down behind and across the street from their farm. The story of that night was retold multiple times as each sibling arrived. It was no surprise to learn that the news account of the incident wasn’t one hundred percent accurate. They never made it to the basement before the tornado hit and it is certainly only by the grace of God that they weren’t hurt or killed, nor were any of their horses, goat, dogs, birds, or chickens. The goat, however, is reluctant to leave the safety of the barn after it’s house was blown away and she somehow ended up with the horses! It’s very sobering to look at the damage to the house and realize how easily the outcome could have been different. Thinking about it gives me a heavy feeling in my chest and makes me want to cry just a little bit.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how people will bond together and help each other out when there’s been a disaster or some type of adversity. It’s as though the shared experience helps us to forget that which would normally keep us apart, things like race, socio-economic status, gender, etc. A couple of months ago, I was in my local Target store when everyone’s cell phone started alerting us that there was a tornado warning. There was an announcement on the PA system and Target employees escorted us to the storage area in back of the store. Where moments before we were complete strangers, we started talking like old friends. If this incident hadn’t occurred, I guarantee I would have left the store without speaking to a single person with the exception of the cashier when I checked out.
When I was on the interstate a couple of weeks ago, there was an accident on the southbound side and cars were backed up for a couple of miles. People were outside their cars chatting and there were even a few who were playing frisbee. Moments before they wouldn’t have even noticed who was next to them on the highway unless they were passing, being passed or being irritated by each other’s driving.
As I was getting ready to leave the luncheon, I was talking to my Uncle George. He said that it seems like there are so many bad people in the world and so many bad things happen, but since the tornado, people have done so many kind things for him and his family that his faith in mankind is renewed.
What would it be like if we didn’t wait for something terrible to happen to reach out and help people? What if we were less focused in our own little world and more focused on the things that Jesus cared about; the widows, the orphans, the poor, the sick and the broken? What if we celebrated our differences instead of judging people who are in some way different from us? What if we simply chose love instead of hate?
There was a lot to celebrate today, and not just my parent’s anniversary and my Aunt’s birthday. It was good to be reminded that I never know what tomorrow will bring and I need to make sure that the people I love know how much they mean to me. If you have people that need to hear that you love them, or you feel like there are people that can use your help, today would be a good day to take some action.