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Images of the Aftermath

I put together some images taken of the rubble left over from the mall beside the Harrisburg Walmart.

Here’s the view of the houses (or what’s left of them) behind Walmart going up the hill toward the hospital.

On Route 45 South of Harrisburg

More of Route 45

Even more of Route 45

Still Route 45

Route 45, again

Yeah, still Route 45

Now, that’s interesting …

That concrete pad there in the center of the photo, that used to be the Lutheran Church.

Over the Rainbow: reflections on a tornado

My storm radio alarm woke me this morning around twenty ’til 5 … a little earlier than I had planned, jarring me awake. Despite the darkness, I got up and took the dogs for a quick pee. I confess I was a little harsh in my tone of voice with them, but I didn’t want to stand out in the rain and I wanted them to hurry.

Then, it was right back to bed … just like most mornings. The only thing different on this morning was that I headed down to the basement with a pillow, a few blankets, and my dogs, instead of back upstairs to my own bed. There in the darkness, I heard the tornado alarms begin.

I didn’t hear rushing wind or feel the force of the storm. I do not have a tornado “story” to tell. I simply reclined with my dogs, bemoaning my uncomfortable position and the fidgety fear that can be so annoying in 60-pound and 80-pound dogs who don’t know that they aren’t human.

Half a mile.

That’s about how far my house is from the shopping center, the hospital, the housing complex, the businesses that were hit.

Half a mile.

As I lay reclining – complaining – people were dying.

It’s hard to believe that the helicopters flying overhead aren’t on their way to somewhere else. We’re not accustomed to “fame” here in little Harrisburg, Illinois. It’s almost exciting to see the name of my hometown at the top of the websites of major news networks, to see our mayor interviewed.

Except that it’s not.

I was the very first person to arrive this morning at the building where volunteers are being coordinated. Well, I was the second; a sheriff’s deputy was already on-site. My name is the first on the sign-up sheet to help, to do something, to do ANYTHING.

They don’t need me.

I called the local Presbyterian pastor (which is the denomination in which I am also a pastor) and offered help.

They don’t need me either.

So I sit – useless – at my computer, staring at the worship service that I was organizing for this coming Sunday while I listen to the police scanner. The worship liturgy doesn’t make sense to me anymore; the words no longer describe the world in which I now reside. I should begin to put together a different kind of service.

But not right now. Not yet.

I stare for a long time at the capsule in my hand, one of the vitamin supplements that I normally take each day. How strange to be planning for a healthy tomorrow, while surrounded by devastation. Another alternative doesn’t present itself, so I go ahead and swallow it.

The windows of my house are open to the sunshine and spring breezes, and the weather seems to mock the ache in my soul. I feel disoriented, so I look up the news sites and check the death toll, hoping that the numbers will have decreased.

I recognize the voices on the scanner … friends who serve as first responders and who are working in some useful employ today. I want to be there. I want to get in my car and drive to the site and walk around. I want to wrap arms with other people who feel my confusion and pain. I want to touch the rubble with my hands and weep over the remains.

But I don’t go there. I don’t even drive by. I know I would be in the way of the work that needs doing.

I hear people use the word “sightseers” for such behavior … but maybe we are mourners, who yearn to gather to pay our last respects and to remember and to try to come to grips with the loss. Or perhaps to find the only kind of reassurance available: that we’re still here.

The Road(s) to Nowhere

This is reposted from the other blog I contribute to:

I tried. I really did.

I wanted to post a thoughtful reflection on this blog on Friday (which is my usual day to post) … but it’s as though my brain has gone all fuzzy. (It might be wrackspurts, but I don’t think so.)

Our blog is called Wholly (Holy) Ordinary … and we attempt to notice the holiness of ordinary moments. But as I look around at the floodwaters on every side, my brain just stops working.

This week – instead – I offer you a visual meditation. As I was taking these photos, the phrase “a road to nowhere” kept popping up in my head. Note that everywhere there is currently water in these photos, there is usually (completely) dry land.

(this is one of those tall roadside billboards)


When I first saw this video, I was certain that this had to be posted by a pastor who was putting off writing their sermon. Turns out that I was wrong … but it still reminds me of all the imaginative and useful (?) things I can find to do instead of the one thing I am supposed to be doing!

All is Well?

One of the blogs that I read regularly had a post today called “All’s Well With the World.”

It got me thinking about all of the upheaval going on in so many places around the globe, from Libya to Wisconsin.

So when I ran across this article, I thought it was quite interesting. I thought I’d share.


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