"Where does the love of God go, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?" sang Gordon Lightfoot, decades ago.
Yet, there's a ring of truth for that, yesterday and today, here in the Heartland, as we reach, bend, and stretch our minds to find the love and grace of our God in the aftermath of yesterday's disaster.
Barry Trammel wrote of the ultimate horror, "Where are the children?"
And I wondered about the children, who cries for you? Who cries out for you, when the things most sedentary, safe, and secure that you can imagine, are literally ripped out of your grasp?
What do you hold on to? When you grasp a tree, a tree you couldn't fall with a car, without hours of work with an ax...and it is ripped up in seconds, along with you?
What do you depend on, when you're in a building, that in a million years you couldn't pull down with your 3rd grade hands, disintegrates around you? You watch it being pulled apart in seconds...the roof above your head is gone, the walls rumbling and crumbling in on you. When you see a car fly by...in the air?
What do you do, when you are in a storm shelter, and the door is ripped open, or off? You did what you were supposed to do! You took cover, you got in the cellar, only to have the Beast overcome your safehold.
There are things in this life that we depend upon each and every day, things we cannot move, break, and destroy...and we learn that these things are safe. Buildings, homes, schools, and cars...only to have that innocent perspective ripped away from us in a flash by Mother Nature.
You reach out mentally, from home, wanting to help, not wanting to watch TV, but being pulled, like a black hole to the only information source that can help you find out more....morbidly watching, rationalizing that maybe there's something good about to happen.
Because, for most of us, we understand the dangers...and then we forget. The day before, I watched a nice and beautiful storm swirling around our heads, hoping to see my first tornado live...even as the NWS, located here in Norman stopped momentarily monitoring to seek shelter themselves. 10 minutes later, that beautiful swirl dropped a tornado that killed two. Yesterday the Monster drove through Moore like a gigantic bulldozer...destroying everything in its way.
Then it isn't fun anymore, it isn't interesting...still fascinating, you watch the TV...literally staring at something that looks like a fake monster eating up a town...it is surreal, and somewhere in your head, you know that not everybody is going to be ok. You slowly make the connection from 'awestruck' to 'serious and deadly situation'...and yet you can't quite meld the two together in a cohesive thought. "Do I turn the TV off?" "Do I keep watching?"
I sent the kids outside, in the immediate aftermath...because of a quote I once heard..."you cannot unsee what you've seen". Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I'll let a bit of their innocence escape to be stolen a bit later in life.
Then you realize it hit a school....two schools...and you see the pictures, and you hear the newscaster say "Oh NO...No....Oh my God"...and you do the same math in your mind...Not everybody will be ok. There are people's children...that will no be ok.
My son forgot his lunch today, and I was barely able to hold it together as I walked down the hallway of his school to his room...imagining the walls being pulled, twisted, broken, with shit flying everywhere...I had to shut off for a minute. I made it to my car, before I started to cry.
We ask "What do we do? To cope? How many times does the same damn town have to get hit?"...followed...by a sense of relief that it wasn't your city or town...Guilt, shame, angst, and amazement swirl around as you sit in your home, nice and safe.
You volunteer. You give blood. You donate. You see who you know that's affected, and help. You move, that's what you do...numb with disappointment, grief, and serious violation of personal safety...yet spurned on by a sense of compassion, community and identity as an Oklahoman, or as most of our country today, an Oklahuman.
Last night, before I went to bed...I watched as rescuers continued to dig through the rubble, looking for children and teachers. I hoped...but, eventually you have to go to bed...there's another day to live tomorrow. The practicality of life smacks you in the face, your kids have to go to school, you have to work, the world continues to turn. It makes you want to scream "Stop for just a damn minute, World!! Something very wrong just happened, and I'm quite ready to move on just yet!!"
As I tucked my kids in, they both told me that they no longer liked storms, and that the Joplin tornado hit in the middle of the night. I told them that it was my job to keep them safe, and that I would be watching the weather, and that my phone beeped really loud when a warning came on....but, I was never able to shake the dad on TV, saying his daughter was still buried out there somewhere...it was his job too.
Frail, our grasp on life is...and control can be a serious illusion.
I don't know if the God I believe in hears tears as prayer, or if it even helped...but last night, and again today...
Who cries for the children....I do.