Tomorrow marks the 7 year anniversary of an event that forever changed my life. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf and changed everything. Over 1,800 lives were lost. The devastation was so impossibly far-reaching.
I've been sitting here for 10 minutes, typing and re-typing, unable to communicate what it was like after the storm. I was in Pass Christian, Mississippi for a week 4 months after the storm, and then moved to New Orleans 7 months later. Houses were on train tracks. Cars were in houses. The dreary X with numbers that signified that houses had been searched for survivors (or bodies) marked houses everywhere. Neighborhoods that you knew had once bustled with life were like ghost-towns.
It was devastating. And while I do want to remember that, what I want to focus on is this: I saw Jesus there. Forgive the irony of quoting Rihanna in such a serious post, but it's true- I found love in a hopeless place. And while it's true that I did meet Cori in New Orleans, what I mean in this moment is that I found Jesus. I saw Him everywhere. I saw Him in the quiet servitude of the people we worked with in Pass Christian. I saw Him in the strength of New Orleanians, determined to rebuild. I saw Him in the laughter of my teammates. I saw Him in the story of Aldo, one of the first homeowners we helped, who rescued people on his boat when the levees broke. I saw Him in Augustine, our friend who spoke confidently of the Lord's love, despite the fact that she'd lost her mother and her husband to Katrina. I saw Him in the ways my heart, beat down after a rough senior year of college, started to come alive again. I saw Him in the homes we gutted, the churches I attended, the volunteers who selflessly came to help, and the children I taught.
You only have to go as far as the weather forecast that predicts that Hurricane Isaac will make landfall in New Orleans at 1am on the 7th anniversary of Katrina to remember that we live in a broken world. But what I know to be true is that God's goodness is over it all. My life verse, my Katrina verse, is Jeremiah 31:3-4.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.4
I will build you up again,
and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.
Again you will take up your timbrels
and go out to dance with the joyful.
Tonight, as I pray for my friends and the city that will always hold a piece of my heart, I am choosing to believe in God's everlasting love.