Wow, so much going on but here are two utterly riveting stories.
First, Rod Dreher points us towards an Omaha-based blogger reflecting on the recent double-funnel tornado that ripped apart Pilger, Nebraska. Everybody should look at that photo. THAT, folks, is a tornado's end. Not the wild footage on The Weather Channel. Not thrilling car chases in the 1996 flick Twister (although, for reasons to be mined later, that movie puts forth a lot of neat dichotomies). No--just a town destroyed and a little five-year old girl dead. "Some day" won't come.
Pilger lies about thirty miles south of the equally small town where I was born. When I was three we moved to southwest Missouri where I went through my share of tornado warnings. (For the uninitiated, a "watch" and a "warning" are two very different alerts.) I only saw one tornado, and that was one swirling above in the clouds that later killed somebody in nearby Springfield. Now for the past few years The Weather Channel and meteorologists from the rest of the country descend on the Midwest for the thrilling chase. And for the upstate NY readers--why leave? Times are so bad--and the region is so starved for attention--that this foolishness is not only tolerated but encouraged. They should look at Pilger, or Joplin in 2011, or any number of other places, to remind ourselves what those storms can do.
And in the midst of despair, Dreher notes, 5 times the town's entire population showed up to help Pilger rebuild. Stories like this abound--the willingness of folks to help out others--and we need to remind ourselves of this goodness AND its calling forth by inexplicable disasters. Too often we fixate on the next impending disaster. Through God's grace, though, charity abounds.
And then there are stories like this where a Capitol District native does good--great grades and Columbia Law School and public service--and then inexplicably descends, ultimately, into death. I won't pretend to understand post-partum depression, but it is important that this sort of psychiatric illness needs help--and intervention--just as much as the Adam Lanzas of the world. Yet again, we focus so insistently on individual freedom and self-expression that we often lose the opportunities--often few and far between--to bring about some change. And even here, though, grace--however inexplicable--abounds: her son lived to walk.
We are so accustomed to congratulating ourselves for having it all figured out, and then stories like these reveal the hubris generating that satisfaction. Obviously prayer helps, but the enormity of either story leaves us shaking our heads. And that's probably a healthy reaction.