Where were you during Katrina?

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

    Many of us can well remember where we were, and what we were doing, when momentous events have occurred in our lives. The death of President John F. Kennedy, the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City, are only two recent examples of historical events which have been imprinted upon many of us. The attack upon Pearl Harbor, Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, and the victory over the British at Yorktown were similar markers for earlier generations.
            These times are well-chronicled in the many history books. Yet, there is a palpable distance between them, and us, for often we were not active participants, even though our ancestors, or acquaintances, may have been closer to them. Simply, we have not lived the event.
             It is quite something different when we have become unwilling, or unwitting, participants. No history book can give an accurate account of the personally unique experiences by those who were there. No “sound bite” may accurately relate the depth of the emotions.
            Even at the tenth anniversary of “The Storm,” newly introduced friend’s conversations will quickly turn to, “Where were you when…” It is a sort of qualifier for membership in the Katrina Club.  After admittance, the member is ranked by the devastation. If a house, or someone was lost, they are charter members. If they evacuated, another level, and if they rode it out, then still another. In truth, each of these conversations is a form of the continuing release of the very genuine psychological scarring which continues to cause such pain, even to this day.
            Of course, we can still see some of the physical costs of the devastation, but much of the damage has been bulldozed, repaired, or replaced. Yet, the internal rebuilding of ourselves may not be as complete and must continue. It is not enough to just replace the things of our lives, by continuing this physical accoutery, this largess so seemingly necessary to fleetingly ease our internal anguish.
            In September, 2012 the remnants of Hurricane Isaac went through Picayune with torrential rain, high winds and loss of a life. It was the first significant event, since The Storm, and brought out all of the fears and worries which had been extant on that horrendous day in 2005. The supermarket shelves were cleared, gasoline stockpiles secured and sandbags readied. In all of the frenzied activities, it was the remnant overanxious-ness, bordering on near-panic, which was most palpable. Clearly, we had only pretended we had repaired ourselves and the emotional impact upon our lives.
            In this, our moment of reflection, as we look upon this decade old destruction, and disruption, which continues to have such a hold and effect upon us, let us acknowledge our frailty. Let us also acknowledge the futility of our ability to fully understand the vagaries of nature, the vagaries of human nature, and the nature of our Creator, in all of this.
            It would be in our own nature to raise our fists to the Heaven’s and shout, “How could you have done this?” and then blame God for it all. Yet, it is precisely from Him we should seek comfort, guidance and direction. It is when we seek a higher truth, than ourselves, we obtain understanding and solace. It is only when we seek rebuilding, from the Master Carpenter, may we truly recover.

By Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins.

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