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For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.  Who knew that two weeks ago, when David and I made these vows to each other that we would actually be facing the worse, poorer, and sickness all in our first week of marriage?  Or, at least the potential of these things.

 

After marrying on a Sunday during worship, we were headed the next day for our long-awaited, desperately-needed week of rest, relaxation, and togetherness in the mountains.  But we awoke early Monday morning to the weather news.... a tropical storm still some distance out in the Atlantic was expected to "bridge the gap" between Florida and Cuba, head westward into the Gulf of Mexico, pick up speed, become a hurricane, and potentially make landfall in the north central Texas gulf coast: read that, our home.

 

So here we had our first decision as husband and wife.  And as difficult as it was, we knew what we had to do.  The honeymoon would wait.  And we headed home to Galveston where we boarded up the house as best as we could; gathered up one box full of treasured keepsakes; packed a few clothes; and herded the cat into a make-shift travel carrier.  Then we  were off to my parents' home, to wait out Hurricane Rita.  Thankfully, we got out of town without having to endure the inconceivable traffic jams many of our friends had to experience.  The next day, we awoke with fevers and nasty upper respiratory infections.

 

As the week progressed and the cone of probability of category 5 Hurricane Rita's landfall narrowed on our home in Galveston, we wondered, along with the rest of the world, whether our Island would survive the impact.  Our first wedded days were consumed by constant news coverage and the occasional phone call to determine that our friends were safe.  Our first wedded nights were filled with prayer and quiet conversations about the real possibility of what our first years of marriage would be like in the aftermath of the storm.

 

Well, you know the rest of the story.  Rita took a turn to the north, and our community was spared a direct hit.  In fact, the most catastrophic damage seemed to come from a fire in the historic district some few blocks from our home and a block from our church, that ignited during the height of the hurricane and engulfed three structures before a courageous and determined firefighting crew was able to control the inferno.

 

As I write this, life is relatively back to normal in our little community.  Power is predominantly restored.  School is back in session.  The grocery stores have food on the shelves again.  Folks are back to work.  A tour around town leaves only the occasional sign of what once was...  piles of downed limbs gathered at the curbs in front of homes; a house still clad in plywood and closed shutters; a stoplight dangling askew from its usual position.

 

As I write this, I realize how easy it is to fall back into the routine; to forget the earnest midnight prayers for strength and understanding and peace in accepting whatever is to come; to fully partake of all the many blessings in life, like food and drink, hot baths, a home, cars and fuel, church buildings, clothes, freedom, life itself, without a thought as to the significance of being so blessed. 

 

Yes, even as I write this, I feel a bit of guilt for my fleeting sense of gratitude to our gracious and loving God.  As life returns to normal, as connection to the emotions I felt during Rita begin to fade, I find, too, that my time spent in communication with God is waning... dare I admit, returning to the way it often was before the Storm. 

 

Storms in our lives have a tendency to draw us closer to our God.  When we are drawn into the depths, this is where we often encounter God and see the richness of life in God.  So, I suppose I am grateful for Hurricane Rita in some ways.  David and I learned up front what our marriage is made of and how we cope with the tough times.  We fostered new appreciation for the conveniences we experience in life and count them among God's many blessings.  And we recognized how much we cherish our community of family and friends when we became scattered from one another.

 

Weathering the storms in our lives gives each of us the ability to connect with our brothers and sisters in faith in new and more intimate ways, to minister to each other's needs, to truly be the body of Christ in this world.  Yes, we must be thankful, even for the storms.

 

Grace and peace to you as you journey.

Yours in Christ,  

~~Jennifer

10/03/05

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