One year ago this month, as in May of 2012, we moved to Oklahoma City. It wasn’t long before we called this place home.
After living in Wisconsin for most of my adult life, I couldn’t imagine red dirt, hot summers and bugs becoming commonplace in my life. I am acclimated to the red dirt, not so much the heat and bugs but I’m managing.
The warmth that radiates from those you meet, those who are quick to call you family and lend a hand in hard times, more than compensates for the creepy crawly things and the intense sweltering heat that makes me consider shaving all my hair off.
Oklahoma is a place that makes you want to hang your winter hat and store your heavy coat in cedar and replace them with cowboy hats and boots. At least in theory.
So, for a transplanted northern girl who has learned to call this state home, my heart broke in two on Monday, May 20 when I watched a two mile wide twister destroy the homes and hearts of those I have come to love. It is true that I have never had the privilege of chatting with or drinking coffee with those who lost their homes, personal belongings, pets and loved ones, nonetheless, because I have come to intimately know the heart of this state, and her people, I feel like part of my own heart was ripped from my chest and hung out to dry.
My son clung to me, knowing that the tornado was terrorizing our part of town. Fear traced its way down his cheeks as he watched in horror as the television screen implanted images into his mind that stole his innocence. I cried as I prayed for every mother that sent her baby off to school that morning. I could only sympathize, as I could not imagine that kind of pain. Knowing the possibility that there would be many childless mothers by sun set, I clutched my stomach and sobbed for them, for the complete sense of loss that they would come to realize.
We prayed. We prayed hard. We watched as God answered many of our prayers. One school dismantled, piles of bricks and mortar, no longer recognizable, and yet every child accounted for and alive. Only God. Praise God. Toddlers huddled together with their teacher as the roof was ripped from overhead, and by evening every child was back safely in their parents arms. Only God. The death toll rang 37 then 51 then 90. By morning, it was revised to 24. Again, only God.
We watched as hope lined the streets, bringing water, blankets, supplies and cash. We watched volunteers dig all night through their exhaustion extending hands to over one hundred survivors. Only God.
The following morning we prayed once again. Lord, please hold off the coming storm. It changed course and headed farther east before releasing its fury. Only God. My son grinned from ear to ear when he heard that God has answered his prayer. His faith is a bit stronger this day, knowing that God is listening.
Only God can take horrible and turn it into hope. Only God can make a way when there is none. Only God can bring healing when the pain threatens to rob you of your very breath. Only God sees your devastation and weeps with you.
Every day we watch, praying for miracles, praying for another life to be spared. Then, when all is said and done, when our tears have dried and our minds and hearts are numb, only God can save us. As it should be. Only God.
Please pray for healing for this land. If you wish to donate, there are many places, including the church where I attend, that are taking donations. Please contact The Gathering at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can take part in bringing relief to a devastated people.