Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav Evacuation Day 1

Today I loaded up the element with my wife and kids and my thermos...and that's all I need...and my mac laptop [and that's all i need...and some groceries and some changes of clothes and that's all I need...and a few choice cigars and that's all I need...and um my ipod and my digital camera (because I don't have an Iphone yet) and well that's all we had room for.

We pulled into the contraflow lane of I-10 for Baton Rouge about 10 a.m. and had the smoothest hurricane evacuation we've ever had. We made record time from New Orleans to Opelousas when I began to get cocky and call my dad bragging about how smoothly things were going. About 1 minute into the conversation traffic began to slow. The next 4 hours were much slower, averaging about 30 miles an hour. But hey we were moving! so not bad for an evacuation.

We finally stopped to get some lunch around 3 p.m. about an hour south of Shreveport thinking that because the traffic was thinning a bit it would be a good time for a relaxing lunch. Well the traffic had thinned out because they all stopped at the same place we stopped. So I got in line at Wendy's and 25 minutes later I was within about 4 customers of the counter. About that time we get word that a fight had started at the Popeyes next door. I was actually surprised that a fight had not broken out at Wendy's I was in because there were a whole lot of hungry, cranky people overwhellming the small staff of the restaurant. I could feel myself getting tense and frustrated as well. It seems as if this whole experience is causing a lot of old feelings from Katrina days to surface again in everyone who had been through it. Well in the midst of it I was reminded of the phrase "peacemakers". I realized that I could get caught up in and contribute to the negative, frustrated vibe in the place or I could dial down a bit and sense God's presence and maybe bring a little peace. Well, I don't know if i actually contributed to any peace in that crowded fast food joint but I did sense God in it, and it wasn't that bad.

This whole last week has been kind of like that--having these familiar feelings from the not-so-distant past resurface. There's the fear of loosing things and having to start over again, anxiety about what to do, and the familiar questions of "Why?" The other night Dina was really having a hard time with these questions. Somwhere in our conversation though it occured to me that the years since Katrina have really been some of the best years of my life. Easy? No. Good? You bet. I feel as if the storm changed me, or at least got me in a place where I could experience change. As Dina and I discussed our lives since Katrina we both agreed that we wouldn't trade anything for what God had done in us. I really do have a slightly better understanding of words from scripture like "rejoice when you face various trails..." We can rejoice because what God does in these times is much more precious than gold or any material wealth or position.

I don't know what the next few days holds for us in South Louisiana but I do know God is with us, whether it's in a crowd of frustrated customers at a Wendy's or in a very real storm.

More to come...

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