The longest days . . .
Is it really just Thursday? Every day this week has seemed like a week in itself! We got ready for "our company," he finally arrived, slowly moved inland and has left the reminders of his visit all over the region. He wasn't what everyone thought he would be and people made the usual mistake of comparisons. In my recollection, we first referred to Camille in 1969, then Katrina seven years ago. In fact, Isaac came calling seven years to the day after Katrina and, incidentally, on the tenth anniversary of my last cancer surgery. People believed the storm wouldn't be so bad because it was "only a category one," but didn't take its size into consideration. Yesterday the TV reports were all about New Orleans, Plaquemine Parish and areas of our coast. Today there was more focus on the flooding and tornados throughout Mississippi. I expect that tomorrow there will be more on the flooding. This has definitely been an Isaac who I would just as soon have missed.
People are resilient, expressing gratitude for life and for help received. Most, if not all who have been interviewed, state with conviction that they will rebuild. On usual days there is no place like the Mississippi Gulf Coast, with its great seafood, peaceful beaches and hospitable people. The church where I preached the first Sunday in July sits very near the beach in one of the hardest hit towns on the coast. They were spared during Katrina and I pray that they have been this time.
Today is a day of deep sorrow, but also a day when I have especially thanked God for the gift of Aunt May. She was my mother's youngest sister and the last remaining member of that generation in the Carter family. This afternoon she went to sleep and woke up in the arms of Jesus. When my parents divorced, Aunt May and Uncle Barnard took me to be part of their family and were the first people who really demonstrated unconditional love to me. Aunt May was small in statue, but large in faith and conviction. She and Uncle Barnard taught me about family loyalty and shared everything they had with me. It was Aunt May who wrote encouraging notes to me when cancer first struck in 1981; she was the one who emphasized the importance of never giving up. She taught me to face life as it is, believing and trusting in the God who made me and who is in charge. She is gone, but will never be forgotten.