A day or so ago in the local newspaper, one of the editorial columnists wrote a thought-provoking piece to compare the circumstances in New Orleans to what would have happened here, if we had had a hurricane-like disaster. FYI, Des Moines actually came quite close (anyone remember the Midwest floods back in 1993?) But in the space of a few paragraphs, he painted a grim picture. And to be honest, a disaster may be something we'll experience here in the Midwest 50 years' hence; not everyone realizes it, but the central Midwest may (at least, according to the prognosticators), be the site of a major earthquake, due to the New Madrid faultline.
This has been one of those weeks where it's been hard to look for the positives. Between watching the toll from Hurricane Katrina on the news and hearing of friends' personal losses (from Katrina and otherwise), it's been hard not to encounter someone who has lost someone or something dear to them, or who has lost everything. And this Sunday marks the 4 year anniversary of 9/11. I don't think any of us can truly say we understand what the survivors have been through, unless we have experienced it ourselves.
Looking for the bright spots, this Wednesday, I was practicing a piece I'll be singing in church Sunday. Called "Go Light Your World", it has this lyric: "There is a candle ... in every soul. Some brightly burning. And some dark and cold. And there is a spirit. That brings a fire. Ignites a candle. And makes us whole." For all the horror that we've seen on the media, for all of the political bungling, we've also seen giving on a scale not seen since 9/11. It's not a red state/blue state issue. It's not a Bush-hater issue. It's a human issue. In the years since 9/11, I have seen our country fragmented by soulless politics, by religous fundamentalism, by narrow- mindedness bordering on economic and racial prejudice, and by a dwindling share of compassion for others. It is my prayer and hope that for once, we see less politicizing, less divisiveness, and more compassion, and that our compassion for those in need, our candles that in recent years seem to have almost been snuffed out, are reignited and remain brightly lit.