After eight pounds of water are multiplied times thousands

The flood waters have all but receded in this part of Texas. Businesses, homes, and churches are marked with water lines like scars. The massive flooding left behind a testimony to the power of water. Cars on the side of the road with boats still attached, but flipped over. Thirty-something feet long Class A motor homes tossed about like toys or left bobbing in lakes. Kitchen appliances floating through doorways three grown men could barely squeeze them through on a moving day. “One gallon of water weighs eight pounds” my husband says in reply to my awe. One gallon. Eight pounds.

With all this water flooding in, I’ve been thinking about that person in Psalm 1:3 who is a like a tree planted by streams of water. The water I’ve seen weigh in with destruction and upended lives doesn’t appear to reflect biblical words. But maybe streams of water aren’t always beautiful. Maybe there are times when water washes away everything we think we hold dear and forces us out of our comfortable places. Eight pounds multiplied by thousands. We’re moved. And everyone around us takes notice.

Tonight’s the night after the highs and the lows. Our lives have been altered by the storm. We’ve weathered more in two weeks than we will the rest of the year. At least we hope so. We’re worn. The after has set in: that certain kind of introspective depression that follows a destructive hurricane. It’s in the calm, gentle breeze and the sunshine shadowed by the devastation. Two sides of a coin and we see both at once. Our lives feel lived in retrospect.

As I close my eyes, I’ll repeat verses from Psalm 1 over and over until sleep takes me. I’ll remember the floods and the mess. I’ll think of Florida and the Caribbean. I’ll remember fire devastated states right along with our water weary. I’ll be keeping so many in my prayers tonight.

Psalm 1:1-3  

1 Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.

When waters rise and we learn an awful lot about letting go

This has been a hard day. My family is in the Hurricane Harvey zone of southeast Texas, and we spent the entire day cleaning out a flooded home. The Entire Day. I still smell the stench of rotten food, wet carpet, and the mud.

Water soaked four to five feet high of everything. The ground. The furniture. The walls. We set mildew covered shoes out to dry, and I thought about yesterday when I stopped to tell a total stranger how sorry I was about his apartment flooding. That man shook my hand and thanked me for caring. Simply for caring. I still tear up remembering.

But today, I lost a little of myself. And now I’m dealing with that left over bad taste of anger that somehow mingles with regret and makes you feel a little sick inside. So here I am, and I don’t even know you, but I need to tell you something anyway. See, we’ve come around this table. We’ve come here to a common place, and I hope you’ll bear with me.

I lost it today. We salvaged what we could from the flooded house. And then we salvaged water ruined things. The unsalvageable, the irreparable, the soon to be molded and mildewed. (Is that even a word?)

Yesterday, I spent all day traveling around the area, seeing home after home with piles of debris. I kept trying to fathom how you lay all your hard earned possessions at the curb, water soaked and ruined, and just walk away. Then, I spent today arguing with someone who needed to and wouldn’t.

Neither day felt right. I have this ache inside spreading slow though my veins. The grief for their loss. The heartbreak over my angry words. I’ve spent a week distraught over what others have lost and in one day, I’ve demanded that someone see reason, let it all go, and walk away. Turns out, for some, it really isn’t all that easy. It isn’t just stuff and those two benign sounding words are cruel.

I’m wishing hard this were someone else’s post, someone else’s day. I had expected to feel good about our labor today. Instead, I’m sore body, heart, and soul.

Floods take away more than stuff; floods take away pride, possessions, comfort, and memories. Floods leave behind ground that needs to be found again, turned over, and revived. It turns out that getting to the good ground is the real labor, and the stuff is the harvest of previous labor.

Tomorrow we’ll try again with the pulling out and packing up. Tomorrow I will find myself. I’ll apologize. I’ll extend grace. And I’ll quietly pray for the flooded out to find the ability to throw out and start again.