Some imprints on one’s life are indelible. Two indelible imprints on my life are the Civil rights movement of the 1960s and my service as an Army chaplain in
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita created severe stress from loss of life, destruction of property and life changing circumstances equal to or greater than the civil rights movement and Vietnam’s impact on America. Just as those movements gave rise to heroic moments by common, everyday people who rose to the occasion, the same became reality throughout the hurricane crisis. Our late President
There are inexhaustible discussions of neighbors the
In particular, our Spiritual and Emotional Task Force of the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church learned many such stories. We heard stories of United Methodist pastors who began immediately collecting food, clothing, gasoline and transportation for dialysis patients and providing shelter. The same is true for pastors, priests, rabbis and perhaps imams of other religious orders. Their religious centers became the conduit for coordination and distribution centers for local, state and national emergency responses. They ignored sleep, bathing, needs of their own families and personal health challenges to maximize support for their communities.
We know of laity who walked from home to home in chest deep, swirling waters looking for bodies and hopefully survivors before the rescue teams arrived. I know of one husband, father and neighbor, who after a week of exhaustive rescue and recovery work, finally
To have seen teams from all over our nation come to the South as volunteers is reminiscent of volunteers of another era who came south for “God and country.” And now a new south, reeling from a natural disaster, welcomed its northern, eastern and western neighbors by having visionaries who turned churches into hotels and restaurants with high-level management of work teams employing whatever skills available to resurrect the disaster zone.
Thousands of volunteers did not question the responsibility of insurance companies, FEMA or the Red Cross but initiated cutting up fallen trees, picking up de
The lesson for me in all of this is to remind ourselves that when the need arises, people as human creatures, are some of the nicest folk ever created on God’s earth. Just like
May God not be forced to see us in disaster before we can eternally experience the beauty of neighbors exemplifying what it is to truly be a neighbor. Even in hurricane Wilma along the East coast or tsunamis in another part of the world, leaders are born in times of crisis.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus clearly defines neighbor as usually being someone different from me. The
I thank God for the opportunity to experience a minuscule moment of the