Isn’t it funny that even as the years fly by, some things never fade from your memory? For me, today, those things that I can’t get out of my head are Hurricane Hugo and 9/11. What triggered these memories today?

Even though we now lives hundreds of miles away from my hometown of Georgetown on the coast of SC, because of Facebook and family still living there, we can stay very connected to what is happening there. For instance, tonight, I have learned that people are making real-time decisions about whether to ride out Hurricane Florence. They are watching the TV like a hawk trying to figure out where the hurricane is going (can we ever really know?). They are boarding up windows and stocking up on food and sharing tips about how to best store water in case they don’t have it for weeks. I also learned that they are closing down the hospital and Wal-Mart in Georgetown as of tomorrow, which NEVER happens there, even with past storms. My brother is officially working crazy insane hours as he is on hurricane duty with his law enforcement agency.

Most people have no idea what it is like to live through a hurricane. When Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, it made landfall south west of Georgetown, putting our area on the northeast side of the storm which is the worst for catastrophic damage. Not only do I remember huddling and sleeping in the hall at my grandmother’s house with my aunts, uncles and cousins, but I remember the sound of the wind, how long it took to get places because roads were wiped out, the trees that hit the house, the insane hours my dad worked with law enforcement adn relief efforts, and the absolutely horrible damage it did on all the places that I knew and cherished. Hurricanes have fond memories for me as a time when our family would come together and spend time playing games and hanging out, but lets be real…they are super scary and damaging. So tonight, I am remembering and praying for all of those in the South we know (Georgetown, Charleston, Raleigh, Wilmington) who are bracing for this big monster of a storm.

9/11 will always be a time that is etched in everyone’s minds….where you were when it happened, how you felt, what you did afterwards, how it has changed your life, etc. It is bizarre to me to think that this year’s college freshman was barely a year old when it happened and only know it as “that time my parents talk about.” I was in college, getting up to cram for a test, when I heard that I needed to go check out the communal television. Obviously, classes were canceled, convocation was held, tears were cried, people were stunned, and our worlds changed.

But living here in NYC, 9/11 has taken on a totally different meaning for us. And not just because we regularly walk past the memorial or see the One World Trade tower. We are living life next to people everyday who lost their father, mother, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, friend, etc. in 9/11. We are living next to people who looked up and could see the huge towers of black smoke leading to the sky. We are living next to people who went to help in the relief effort, who comforted their neighbors who didn’t know if their loved one was dead or alive, and who walked past missing posters everyday as they walked to work. We are living next to people who endured major racial profiling and feared for their safety simply because their ethnic background matched those of the terrorists. We are living next to people who share their stories about their mother who is alive because she “happened” to be late to work that one day when she usually never was. We are living in a place that has humanized 9/11 in a way that it never was for us. So, as I think about the 17th anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow, I pray for those who are continuing to grieve the loss of those who were so dear to them.

In the midst of lots of packing, the start of school craziness, and the fall semester rat race that is part of campus ministry, I am choosing to stop and remember that there is so many other things going on for so many other people that go beyond my immediate world and worries. Thank you Jesus for being the one who controls the winds and the waves. Thank you Jesus for being the one who can comfort us in a way that no one else can. Thank you Jesus for giving us the great privilege of praying and interceding for others who are preoccupied with so many heavy things.


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