I never thought it would bring tears to my eyes to see an electric company truck driving down 5th Street. (Usually the only reason to cry about the electric company is the bill.) But something went through me when I saw an actual vehicle with wheels -not a boat!- on the road. I was suddenly Noah, and the truck was an olive leaf in the mouth of a dove.
A few hours later, Mary called me and asked if the water had gone down by her house yet. I hadn’t been out, but I told her how I had seen the truck driving on 5th Street for the first time.
But 6th Street? Hmmm…. I wasn’t sure.
“Let me run up to my upstairs window,” I said, and I was Noah again, opening the top window of the ark. “I can see your lot beside your house, and it’s still underwater.”
Later that day, I decided to try the road myself. If the electric truck could do it, so could our Toyota Corolla, I decided. I slid the little car into the water and watched the waves it created rolling across 5th Street. Hmm… maybe a bit deeper than I had thought. Won’t Marnell be thrilled if I call him stalled in the water I drove through just for sentimental reasons?
But I made it. Whew!
The electric truck reminded me that some of the biggest blessings in life are the things we never remember to count. Things that are normal. Things that mean life is okay. Little, little things, you never thought would be gone, like a vehicle driving on a street. Blessings you never knew were blessings.
Blessings like a little meal with Mary when she was waiting to get into her house yesterday.
“Thank you for this blessing, Jesus,” she said when I handed her the bowl of rice. “Make me acceptable to you, that I can do your will and not mine. Humble me, humble me and give me the strength. And God there might be someone out there that doesn’t have the strength to go on. God, help them to know they’re not alone. Thank you Jesus, Amen.”
Mary told me how the flooding impacted her as we munched on apple slices, Triscuits and cheese.
“Do you know when this first happened to me, Katrina, I could not shed a tear! I couldn’t even cry! And then one day I just start crying. Then I could not stop! And then I prayed to God, I said, ‘Lord, dry up my tears!’ You know, look at that reverse thing right there. See you gotta look at that.
Mary chuckled at her reverse, roller coaster emotions. She was staying at the home of her grandson who I will call James.
“And then, after that, Katrina, I was laying in my bed just broken one night, cryin’, and I said, ‘Lord, I know it’s only a material thing, but they won’t let me get in my house.’ I said, ‘Lord, just let me see my house, even if you let me see it in a dream. The next night, my granddaughter called me.’
“She say, ‘We in the house. We gonna send you a video.’
They had seen people who told them that it was okay to go in, but not yet okay to stay. It was one week to the day since they had been evacuated and the power had been cut off.
“She showed on the video all the way through the house. I told James’ girlfriend, ‘I know that was God! I know that was God. I prayed to God that he would just let me look through a dream to see my house if we couldn’t go, and now this video come, I know that was God! I gotta go there, James, take me over there!’
“He said, ‘Momma, it’s late.’
“I said, ‘I don’t care, just take me.’
“James took me over there and on our way over he said, ‘Momma, don’t get all excited because all the food and everything probably ain’t no good.’
“I said, ‘James, ya’ll don’t know!’ I said, ‘God can work miracles. God can do anything!’
Seven days had passed without power.
“We stepped in the house Katrina. We stepped up in there, it was COLD, cold Katrina, it was COLD up in there. I went straight to the deep freezer, and I looked in the deep freezer and I said, ‘This food’s still good, James!’ He said, ‘Naw, I bet that food ain’t no good.’ I said, ‘Come here! Come here, see it with your own eyes!’
“I pulled out a bag of chicken, you know them quarter legs? I had four bags down in there. I say, ‘Here!’ I dropped it on the floor, and it was hard as a rock. And then I pulled out another one. He say, ‘I can’t believe it!’ I said, ‘Now you see it don’t you, you see it with your own eyes!’ And I said, ‘Look at that!’ We had those big pizzas that come from Walmart, and I said, ‘Look, look, look, this pizza’s still good!’ I say, it’s still good, James, it’s ice cold! Cause God preserved this house like this!’ I say, ‘He preserved the house, Katrina! I said, ‘Boy, you better wake your head up. Listen while I tell you something. God preserved this house!”
What a great olive leaf right there!
My heart goes out to those of you in seasons of great sorrow and loss. Beside grief like that, our flood is so small. You can see the things in our lives that are so lovely, blessings I often forget to count. Blessings as commonplace as a truck on a road, or chicken that’s still frozen.
Take note of one in your own life right now!