Oh, friends, my heart is broken witnessing Harvey hitting south Texas.
And yet, I cannot help but feel incredibly hopeful.
The post I planned for today feels misplaced and out of step when staring down the realities of Harvey in my own state.
I remember watching Katrina. We were living in Oklahoma City at the time. My boss and the other co-founder of our company arranged for a helicopter to fly them over New Orleans to see the devastation first hand. When he returned to the office, he looked shattered by what he had witnessed. Almost immediately after returning to the office, he and the co-founder made a large donation to the American Red Cross.
As I sat, glued to the coverage of Harvey, I thought of the people on the coast who lost their homes, I thought of the people in Houston watching the waters rise and not knowing how they were going to escape, and I thought about the people on the front lines rescuing hundreds of people.
And I thought, I hope someone makes a donation as large as my boss did back in 2005.
My CEO, my daughter’s namesake, died a year and a half ago and I can’t help but feel his loss immensely at times of great devastation. Who would step up to fill the void he and his shattered heart gave?
And then the donations began rolling in. A million here, a hundred thousand there. Matching gifts. Humble, sacrificial gifts of $5 and $50. People buying flat bottom boats for the express purpose of driving those boats down to help rescue complete strangers. And then hearing someone report he couldn’t find a boat to buy or borrow; they’d all been claimed and were headed down south already.
I’ve read stories about why the city of Houston was not evacuated and the horrors of the last time they attempted an evacuation before Rita in 2005. Heard from people whose home values have plummetted over the past two to three years because of the flooding and they feel trapped, unable to sell and unable to avoid flooding, starting over after each one.
Y’all, the Dallas Cowboys are sharing their practice facility with the Houston Texans. The two NFL teams have worked out practice schedules, because, y’all football must go on. You might remember the New Orleans Saints being such an amazing point of pride and unity in the months and years following Katrina. Football heals. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.
Fort Worth is opening shelters. Dallas Independent School District is holding open enrollment for students coming from south Texas, saying no child will be turned away. Airbnb and those offering their spaces for rent have agreed to list their places for free for the people displaced by the storms. Churches are organizing. Some have already arrived with those boats as well as supplies and fresh, rested folks ready to help.
My social media newsfeed reads like a charity marketplace and a viral SOS call. Give this item here and that thing there and any money you can give to these places. Animals stranded in the back yard, grandmother is trapped in her attic, has anyone heard from my cousin. These posts get shared and forwarded and read more than cat videos and pictures of adorable babies.
And in all I am seeing and witnessing, I feel incredible hope.
The world lost an amazing, generous man eighteen months ago and I was not sure who would step up to take over the work he was willing to do. But now I am watching exactly that. Maybe not one person but more like a hundred people or a thousand people. I am witnessing average, ordinary heroes helping and giving and working like I am not sure I have seen before.
No one needs that helicopter to fly over south Texas right now. We have plenty of news stations doing just that. And while that amazing man I so admired is gone and it is absolutely horrible, his giving and seeing goes on and I can’t help but believe all of us who knew him learned how to give, at least in part, by learning from his example.
This world is a hard, tragic place and those stories celebrating the hard and tragic are the ones we see on the news and in our social media news feeds normally.
But this past weekend, this week, we are sitting front row on the best this world has to give. The best we can give. Giving of our time, energy, resources, and our prayers.
Goodness, I can’t tell you how I wish we could take these moments of selfless service to others and hold it like the treasure it really is.
Thank you, Father, for every person giving, every person rescuing, every person being rescued, and every person yet to be rescued. May Your favor overflow on them and in them over the coming weeks, months, and years. You are enough. You are my portion and my abundance. And because You are, we give, gratefully, sacrificially, and gladly.
If you haven’t given, please prayerfully consider doing so.