Today marks one year since Hurricane Katrina made her fateful landfall on the eroded shores of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The fallout of this incredible natural disaster has brought out both the worst and the best of the American people. We have witnessed looting, violence, chaos, racism, political posturing, and shameless blaming. However, we have seen selfless heroism, unprecedented generosity, racial reconciliation, powerful community spirit, genuine love, and undying hope and determinism. Imagine how great the next year of rebuilding will be if we all commit ourselves to being part of the solution!
“But I’m in no position to make a difference,” you may say to yourself. I beg to differ! Even a year later, in our various roles of life, we can all make a tremendous difference. Say a prayer today for those grieving the loss of loved ones to Katrina’s wrath. Be gracious in traffic, and help your own community be a little more pleasant. Support your government leaders for their good choices, rather than trashing them for their bad ones. Encourage a teacher – the school systems are still feeling the crunch of Katrina. Find out about someone else that is making a difference in a way that touches you, and get involved with them. (I just found out about www.songforNewOrleans.com last night, and watched both documentaries on TV.) Build relationships with your own neigbors and community members – this could be the effort that saves you when disaster strikes closer to home. There is so much we can do every day, if we just see ourselves as capable of making a difference in the world. Most of us are not in positions of influence where we can make a great difference in one day. However, by persistently choosing to keep our eyes, ears, arms, hands, hearts, and homes open every day, we can make a world of difference in a year.
As for me, I am grateful for the opportunity to have served and been served by some very fine people who came to Baton Rouge for safety and stability during and after Katrina. Our church utilized its gym to house guests from New Orleans as they worked on getting their lives back together, and I was privileged to have been one of the staff-directors. It was amazing to watch our residents serve one another, and rebuild a New Orleans community right here in a gym in Baton Rouge! Some of these special folks have set up a permanent residence in my heart, and my life is richer for it – I only wish it had not come at such a great loss to them and their families. It was also tremendously encouraging and rewarding to see our church members come together with their wide array of gifts and passions to create such a powerful team. I continue to be amazed at the great power of a unified team of Christians serving with God’s love and direction!
I know that for some of you, this week will mean re-living the turmoil of Katrina all over again. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support if you need it. There is no shame in needing help, and certainly no reason to suffer alone in silence. Anniversaries of traumas and painful losses can really take us by surprise and send us on an emotional roller coaster. Even the “strongest” person can become suddenly overwhelmed at the emotions that seem to come from out of nowhere. Feel free to call me or one of my colleagues at Baton Rouge Christian Counseling Center at 387-2287, or email me at Roger@hopeforyourfamily.com.