- We are not on the front line of Katrina's issues. We don't live on the Gulf Coast, we don't live in New Orleans or surrounding parishes. We haven't had to be bussed to Texas. We feel this, sure, but not in the same way as those who've lived though it, or had a loved one die because of it.
- We count ourselves among the thousands and thousands of folks, who, as witnesses to cataclysm, cannot sit idly by and do nothing.
- Having said that, we don't know really what to do.
Benevolence is an interesting thing. And we are seeing it expressed in ways that boggles the mind. As of today, the American Red Cross alone has received over $400 million in gifts to support their work. It takes giving on a stunning level to stand as response to a disaster that has stunned us cold.
But if we're not careful, we'll want to give of ourselves on our terms and in our time. In Memphis, there's a growing impatience with those who have readied shelters, resources for jobs and education, but not the influx of people expected. Just where the heck are the people? Can't they see how badly we want to help?
Watch out! Be careful! We are not called to give of self on our own terms. We are not called to give of self only to those who suit us or fit the mold we want or expect. No, we are called to give of self in the moments that come to us as they come, when they come. If any agenda other than that is at play, we're faced with the harsh reality that it's really not about those in need that motivates our response, it's about how we feel when we give to those in need. Strange how that can work, ain't it?
And for this disaster, as tired as it is to say now only after one week, it's going to be years for recovery. There may well be the need within the parameters of our city and congregation to relate to specific people in specific ways. There will come a time for us to go there and begin to aid in building recovery.
Patience...and a willingness to respond three months from now that we feel in this first week. That's what is needed. Patience is a spiritual gift and discipline to be practiced. Until the time comes for us to be called up, practicing patience is our homework.