I hope you made it through Irene OK. We did.
This week I’ve been collecting phone calls and emails and reports from others, telling the stories of their experience with Irene. Some have power. Others do not. Some have no phone service or internet and have been “off the grid” for a while. Many have been checking in with each other to make sure one another are making it through these days. My favorite story so far is someone who baked cookies before the storm came. When she was visited by a friend, she and her visitor ate cookies in the dark.
I got an automated message from the Emergency Operation System on Monday explaining
rather apologetically not to expect restoration of power for up to a week, to stay clear of closed roads and not to move police tape no matter how tempting it might be.
Reading the New Canaan Patch on Tuesday morning (Sheryl Shaker, “CL&P and Emergency Officials Agree: Safety First, Aug 30, 2011) the estimates are that 81% of New
Canaan lost power, and 76% still do not have it. I have heard verbal reports only, but it sounds like other surrounding towns where our members at St. Michael’s live fared about the same. It is going to be a long week. (You may not even get this until next week). It remains uncertain when school will begin to the chagrin of many parents and children – including the Sinibaldos.
I still have not seen national news, but from what I have heard, 700,000 people in Connecticut are without power. There have been numerous deaths, and varied degrees of
flooding. I still don’t know what happened in New York City, but watched the television very closely before the hurricane arrived and in watching all the evacuation plans it seems that the threat was taken very seriously. Hopefully people paid attention to their leaders, and plans minimized injuries. Again, verbal reports only – it sounds like Long Island and Vermont got the blunt of Irene’s fury.
Like many people, we did the best we could in preparation – getting supplies from the store, filling water jugs, I even boarded up the basement windows and took a mattress
to cover up the sliding glass door so we could “bunker down” when the storm hit. Having never been through a hurricane before, we had no idea what to expect. As Irene got closer and the latest projections had her tearing right through Fairfield County, I even considered packing up my wife and kids and sending them west in the car while I rode the storm out. They remained.
Irene is over though challenges remain. We made it through the storm, and the clean-up process has begun. A familiar sound the last few days has been the constant buzzing of chain saws. My family walked down to the New Canaan Library, and the people there are to be commended for supplying water and coffee and playing movies to those without access to amenities. The High School is being used as a water station to fill containers. The YMCA is making available their facility for showers. Well done. I went out Tuesday afternoon and saw many work crews, neighbors helping neighbors, and people, despite the circumstances, were in pretty good spirits.
Sometimes we look for big moments to see God’s hands at work. Sometimes we have that overwhelming feeling that indeed we have experienced the holy. Other times it is happening all around us and it takes an observing eye to name it at work. In these last days, God has been among us. In the waiting and the praying, in the helping and checking-in, in the clean-up and in the vigilance to get our lives back together, the crucified, dead, and risen Christ is near.
Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered, I am there also” (Matthew 18:20). Usually we think of worship at church when we hear these words. Sometimes we say them jokingly when only a couple of people come to a church function or meeting. He actually speaks
them from the midst of a wider conversation on forgiveness. Whatever the context – it is a promise to behold with fresh eyes as we are at work in the world – from the mundane tasks we are responsible for like sweeping debris, to bold initiatives like restoring power to a whole state, to the personal struggles of reconciliation in the midst of chaos. Christ is with us and in our midst. The traumas of your words, hands and feet become the scars upon him, just as those life-giving hands, feet and word become yours. A colleague reminded me last week before Irene came and went:
“God has a plan. You are it.”
The Father will be with us as we continue our clean-up efforts. Christ is at work among us as we count on each other too. The Spirit, a mighty wind more powerful than any storm of life can ever be – continues to raise us from the dead.
Peace, Pastor Geoff
Jesus said, “Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)