Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Flood: When the Waters Recede

We face a great challenge.

Information comes to us, more often than not, in a flood. It comes rushing in, sometimes with no warning. There's no way to prepare for this flood - no, you find yourself trapped in the middle of it, thigh-deep in speculation, hearsay, and lies, sprinkled with some facts.

There are Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with articles that are filled with half-truths that are followed by confident, hasty opinions. There are digitized disagreements between "friends" and followers who've not heard the voice of the other in years, if ever.

Photo Credit: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes via Compfight cc

You're overwhelmed by the flood; there may be no getting out.

I remember watching (from the news) the floodwaters of 2005's Hurricane Katrina as they slowly receded. The dirty, displaced rubble left behind by the murky water was now ready to be rummaged through -- what is worth keeping? And what was really valuable to begin with?

The clean-up didn't happen alone. Communities - families, churches, restaurant staff, neighborhoods - worked through it together.

But by this time, many of the eyes watching the flood from cubicles and living rooms, once feeling as though they were caught up in it themselves, had moved on, changed channels, become weary or bored, because there seem to be so many floods these days.

To be sure, there was urgency during Katrina. Babies needed formula, hospitals needed medicine, and grandmothers needed rescuing from attics. There, too, is an urgency in our flood: parents want answers, authorities are overwhelmed, truths must come soon.

But beyond the urgent days comes the slow, thoughtful, difficult work of sorting through the pieces, looking for the long view, seeing a way forward.

We continue to be surrounded by the floodwaters of injustice, war, famine and deceit. And for these floods that ravage our street and our city - no longer just on our screens - may we have the courage to do the long work of digging out what is valuable and recognizing what should be left behind.

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