New Year's Eve in Gulfport, Mississippi: sounds exciting, right? I bet you're jealous! You know you are!
When I was growing up I used to chat with my best friend Lindsey about spending New Year's Eve in New York City- at least once. Well, we've yet to do that, but I have seen the ball drop and/or the fireworks go off from the mountain tops of Colorado, the sunny beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, and the mob scenes of downtown DC. Never in my youth, however, did Lindsey and I dream of celebrating the turn of the year in Mississippi.
But Mississippi feels like the right place for me this year. The Gulf Coast is a little broken, still. They're trying to pick back up and move forward, but they don't really know how that looks just yet. They're not totally sure what they're going to be or how they'll rebuilding. Cities are still arguing out the planning processes. Developers seem to be shooting up everywhere- but also nowhere in particular- haphazardly. Confusion reigns in government, business and non-profits all over the coast. But neighbors have swooped in to help, coming from near and far to support, heal, love, build and laugh with those who have been through so much.
Since New Year's two years ago, when my little sister passed away, I've been pretty broken. I don't know how to rebuild myself. I don't know how to rebuild my relationship with God. I don't know what my future looks like- where I will be or what I'll do. I didn't live through Katrina, but I did survive my own storm. And, two years later, I'm still trying to pick myself back up and look forward. And that's without having to navigate the webs of building permits, mold treatement and smart codes!
Coming down here to help out with the Gulf Coast rebuild has been such a huge piece of the healing process for me; for my own personal rebuilding. It's work I can do to help someone else pick up. It's a way for me to pay back all of the family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and strangers who've held me togther for the past two years.
Today's reading in church was the story of Jesus as a boy getting "lost" from his family, and seeking refuge and understanding in the temple. I caught myself thinking that maybe the Gulf Coast and this Recovery effort can be my temple. So many people have struggled here and so much damage has been done. But for me- this chaos- it is helping me to rebuild. I've spent almost 4 months here seeing God's love touch lives, homes, pets, organizations, and even me, again.
The Gulf Coast and I aren't the only ones in the world hurting this New Year's Eve. War, illness, hunger, poverty, violence, hopelessness and so many other troubles are so very present in all of our lives. So my New Year's wish is that we can all help each other rebuild- ourselves, our families, our communities, our world. The only way I see that I can rebuild, that we all can rebuild is to put our trust in God's love. If we can start to share that love with one another, maybe we can all heal enough to move forward, together, in peace and joy.
May His love be with you all this evening and throughout the New Year!