Last week our community was in such bad shape from Harvey that our stores couldn't open. Then they opened but you had to wait, sometimes hours, to get in and the supplies were limited. Needed bread? Too bad. There wasn't any. Neither were there chips. And eggs and milk were a precious commodity.
As people waited to even get in the store, they had little else to do but relate with strangers (also in line). It was a welcome change from our rush, rush, rush lifestyle. It reminded me of time spent in Kenya where I witnessed people moving more slowly and talking to one another on sidewalks because they had nothing better to do. We were doing that too last week. And it was refreshing.
Most people waiting in line with me to get in at The Dollar Store last week weren't even in line to get something for themselves but rather for someone else in need. One woman waiting was there to get laundry detergent and mesh bags for the laundry she was doing for the first responders.
Another woman was on a mission to find a couple hundred ziploc bags to feed evacuees at the airport. I sent her to my house, because for some odd reason, I'd just a week before, purchased a box of 300. We easily became like neighbors, one sharing a cup of sugar with another.
Two days ago I went to the grocery store in need of 300 individual bags of chips. Oh boy, did the store have chips, only not what I needed. Instead I faced an aisle that made me feel like I was stuck in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Barbecue chips anyone?
I just now checked out of Market Basket. The chip aisle has been restored. There were boxes of individually bagged, assorted chips. They had Doritos and Pringles and every other brand stacked nicely in its place. I purchased my needed items, flashed a quick smile at fellow shoppers and made my way to my car. Some things are going back to normal; in our stores at least.
I have a strange prayer though. One that, hopefully, won't seem insensitive to those who are still suffering great loss.
I pray that as things go back to normal, we won't.
I pray that as items continue to be recovered and replaced, and as houses are rebuilt, that our community will remain changed. I pray that those of you watching from the outside will be changed too. God is doing something new.
We are looking to the needs of others like never before; becoming better neighbors and coming closer together as sisters and brothers, even the ones we're meeting for the first time. We're no longer strangers.
There is still an incredible amount of need here in Nederland and the surrounding area. Besides the need for food and a permanent place to rest heads, a greater need has been exposed... the need to better love one another. Not to just love one another at arm's length, but to truly and consistently love one another as Christ loved the church.
May we not go back to normal.
And do not be conformed (by going back) to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
A few pictures from after the storm...