It’s been almost a year since I posted to this blog. It’s Advent season, however, and a few dear readers have let me know they are revisiting Waiting for Jesus. I am truly flattered and inspired to return to this space. Thank you, friends.
Optimism isn’t my strength. I don’t consider myself a pessimist, but I’m pretty good at imagining a worst-case scenario or completely overlooking the silver lining. Of all the Advent themes, HOPE is the most difficult for me to generate. But hope floats.
Besides fire, I can’t think of anything less stoppable than water. With a year’s worth of rain falling in a short, five-day period, Houstonians watched helplessly as the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey rose in every direction. Homes, businesses, even lives were washed down the drain like last night’s bathwater. But hope floats.
Before the rain had time to slow down, the heroes of hope began to emerge. Anyone with a tall truck or a jon boat sprang into action and began moving people out of the water and onto dry ground. Before long, our Louisiana neighbors came with their boats, and others flocked in from states even farther away. Because hope floats.
First responders, city officials, and news crews worked around the clock with little time for food or rest. Celebrities, sports heroes, even presidents raised money to help rebuild once the storm was over. When people feel supported, hope floats.
Schools, churches, convention centers, even a furniture store housed people who had no other dry place to stay. Donations of food and clothing poured in. A few folks complained, but most spoke of their gratitude for safety, shelter, and basic needs met. Hope floats.
Once the water receded and clean up began, everyone pitched in: the kid next door, the relatives from across town, the church people from all over the country. Neighborhoods looked like war zones with debris piles as far as the eye could see. Cleaning products, sheetrock, trustworthy contractors, and other necessities were in short supply. Hope bubbles just below the surface sometimes, but it always floats again.
For days, there was no regular television programming, only news coverage with constant weather reports and seemingly endless video of displaced people, devastated homes, and submerged landscapes. It was difficult to watch, yet impossible to turn off. Houston has always been known as a large city with a small-town personality, but watching so many helpers, living in such close quarters, and sharing so many meals took our sense of community to “a whole ‘nother level.” We even decided to alter the way we capitalize the name of our city, hoUSton, if only for a while. When times are tough again (I hope it won’t be any time soon), hope will float up on a capital US.
Sometimes hope floats so high it spills over leaving extra that can inspire a World Series win or be loaded into a plane and sent to far-away places like Puerto Rico. Hope floats, but it also flies.
Things are returning to normal for many. Some will continue to rebuild their homes and lives for months or even years. Some, particularly those who lost loved ones, will learn to live with a new “normal.” My prayer is that the rest of US will continue to help and not become complacent in the comfort of our normality. Hope floats, but it can always use a boost.
There was snow in Houston yesterday. Social media was filled with pictures of children playing in the snow, dogs playing in the snow, a 290-pound defensive end playing in the snow. The city was energized and more beautiful than we have seen it in a long time. Hope floats down from the sky in fluffy white flakes.
It finally feels like Christmas.