Psalm 30 kept swirling through my mind as I heard stories of grief and loss. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. The residents of Nichols, who went to bed relieved that the rains of Hurricane Matthew had flooded the river, but the water wouldn't flood their homes. They woke up to find that flooding upstream in North Carolina breached dams, and at least one dam was opened on purpose to protect North Carolinians, and the tiny town of Nichols sat in four feet of water for two weeks. I'm glad I don't have the choice about which towns will flood. Click for more pictures from Oct 2016.
Weeping will linger many, many nights for the families who sent sons, brothers, a husband to North Carolina to rebuild homes, and two men will never come home. The road accident happened in a neighboring community rebuilding from the same flood that we were helping rebuild from.
You have turned my mourning into dancing.
We remembered together how fleeting and fragile life is, and were once again grateful that we sold our trailer to "simply" live in the van. Hauling a trailer is scary.
Ten members of our team are Old Order Mennonites from Wisconsin. Their inspiration to come was a death in the family, and part of their grief was to get away together and serve others. Weeping may linger for the night but joy comes with the morning. Life's heavy losses require more than one night of weeping, more than three days bereavement leave. But the balance of night and day is part of God's genius design, that our lives be a balance of rest and work, of loss and joy. Or as we remembered as we played, a balance of taking apart and building up.
How many homes have you had? Home defined as an address you've lived at for at least three months? 23 for me. 25 if I count our trailer and our van (they don't get their own address).
Our faith ancestors had countless family homes, and as a people moved from homeland to homeland. Garden, ark, Canaan, Egypt, the wilderness, Canaan again, Babylon, exile into nearly all the lands of this earth.
How can we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? cry Judeans in exile, May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, Jerusalem. Psalm 137
Judeans in exile also hear God's call to make home, to find home, in that foreign land. Seek the peace of the city in which you dwell. Plant gardens, grow and harvest, grow your families, too.
Daniel's home flooded 15 months ago and he's been staying in a nearby town. A few of his cousins live on the same street and have been staying other places, too. One cousin moved back a couple weeks ago and as I cleaned trim to put back in Daniel's house, this cousin came over to chat. When he told me "there's no place like home," it didn't sound cliche.
Storage stashed, van overloaded, dogs getting in the groove, and we learn from at least one obstacle per day. e.g. Today one of the bikes came loose from its mount and was dragging behind us and we were so glad it was a bike we'd found in a dumpster! With some TLC it will eventually be rideable.
We had a full and fast month with family in friends in Indiana, and headed for North Carolina at the end of January. After a quick visit with Beth & Lydie, we ventured to South Carolina's Huntington Beach State Park to camp at the Atlantic Ocean. It was a treat to get back "home," to living in the van. Even after getting rid of so much *stuff* we have too much with us, and it's a hassle to move things off the bed to pile ourselves into it, then have to move so much back to the bed to get into the fridge/freezer, then unload the van seats onto the freezer to drive somewhere. We're going to eat through two tubs of stuff, then we'll be in better shape!
I've had a funny thought process in the past couple weeks. I hear about an appealing job opening and think "I should apply for that," but of course I shouldn't! Somehow I have this sense that I'm unoccupied, since I have no formal job - but we chose this season of adventure and volunteering and sabbatical. But the old habit of a job supplying my purpose is the habit I'll be breaking in the weeks to come, practicing every time someone asks me "What do you do?"
Which we're getting asked a lot today as we started a week of volunteering with Brethren Disaster Ministries in Marion, South Carolina. We're working in a rural community of ~400 that flooded terribly, and only ~80 residents have been able to return home. We'll have more to say about it soon!