One hot afternoon, a truck driver, a Lutheran Minister and some of his congregation, a bunch of Evangelical Christians, a Rabbi, and a bunch of teenagers joined hands forming a prayer circle in a yard.
I know this sounds like the beginning of a possibly questionable joke. However, the story is true. The setting: the yard of an 89 year old woman in a Houston suburb about a week after floods from Hurricane Harvey devastated her home.
The woman and her son, the truck driver of the story, could not afford to relocate her. Nor could they afford the initial cost of cleaning out the wet structure of her home before mold set in and ruined it further. So, the truck driver asked his pastor, the Lutheran Minister, for help. The Evangelical Christians were many of the woman’s neighbors. The Rabbi was a family friend. The youth, well they were desperate to do something useful after a week without their electronics (their admission, as told to the reporter 😊 ).
The New York Times reporter chose to focus on this particular woman, because 25 years before she traveled to Florida to help people deal with the devastation wrought on their homes after Hurricane Andrew. “I never thought I would need the same thing someday,” she told the reporter.
Isn’t that true for all of us? We never think we could ever need help. Sometimes, we try to deny that we need or want others to help us. But, really it’s not true nor healthy. A few years ago, I needed surgery. A couple of days before I went to the hospital, I bumped into the chair of the casserole committee. It dawned on me that maybe my husband could use the help with meals. I thought I would try to give him one less thing to do the first few days after I came home. So, I asked for a few meals. I said nothing else. After all, I didn’t want to be a ‘bother’ to anyone. I just wanted a little help…my family didn’t ‘need’ more.
Well, 2 days later, a very worried Reverend Nancy called me. She expressed true concern about my need for surgery and what could the Church could do to help. To this day, I feel bad that I assumed it was a bother to ask for help. I had a whole Church of people as a resource. People who wanted to help! When Nancy insisted that the Church would be there for me, I added my name to the prayer list. I asked for help getting my son to Church so he could acolyte until I was allowed to drive again. And, an army of very good cooks provided meals that were not casseroles. The meals helped my husband tremendously. For a long while after my name came off the prayer list, people asked after my health. I am grateful to report that my surgery was a success. I thank God every day for my continued health. And I know that if I should ever have a need again, I can call and ask.
We often use the word “community” to refer to the place we live. In reality, “community” is the people in the place. It’s our family. It’s the people we live next to. It’s the Church we belong to. It’s the town we live in. It’s people who through disaster after disaster have demonstrated that coming together to help each other is what we should do. It’s what we are called to do.
And, when I say “called”- I mean asking for help as well as providing help.
Who knows when any one of us could end up in a rag tag, diverse prayer circle praying to the same God- thanking Him that the tragedy was not worse and sending people from our communities to help.
Yours In Christ,
Karen Rodgers, Vestryperson