Hey there friends. I’m recording this at the end of what has been a really difficult week here in Texas where I live. A series of winter storms swept across our entire state leaving millions of people, homes and businesses suffering from devastating loss, from days of discomfort and confusion and disconnection. Survival skills, or the lack of them, were tested.
While a record breaking snow that blanketed our yards, our land and streets was welcomed with delight by many, what soon followed were days of growing weary of sitting in the cold, sitting in the dark, running out of water, and food. The lives of beloved husbands, mothers and children have been lost this week as a result. And while dozens of deaths have been confirmed, officials are saying it could be weeks, months even, before we can know the death toll caused by the storm.
While the snow has melted and the ice has thawed, and where I’m at we’re enjoying a high of 64 degrees today, many homes in Texas are now uninhabitable, and parts of Texas remain without adequate food supply or safe water.
And that’s not to mention the crisis we were already in, a pandemic. Some of us are coming up on one year of physical isolation.
We were some of the fortunate ones here in Texas who never lost power or water, whose house stayed warm and comfortable and safe. We opened our doors to friends, and their children and their dogs, who weren’t so lucky. After nearly a year without seeing those friends because a Covid-19 forced us apart last March, it was bittersweet to welcome them back into our home, a crisis on top of a crisis bringing us back together again. Under my mask, I was smiling with gratitude as I was finally playing host to friends again, stirring a pot of homemade gumbo and preparing kid-friendly charcuterie for snacking,
This is not the episode I planned for today. And that’s okay. This was not a normal week. This has not been a normal year.
What even is normal anymore?
I took the pressure off of myself to keep on keeping on, to stick with business as usual.
And take a moment to pause.
To pay attention to this moment in time.
To grieve. Lament.
To be grateful.
And to pray.
Oftentimes when we’ve been through a crisis, or something traumatic, we want to cope by getting back to our normal, regular rhythms. We fail to be still, to stop and acknowledge, to process what we’ve just lived through, what we’ve just experienced. It’s more comfortable for us to move on from the crisis, to put it behind us. But I’m not sure if that’s what is most healthy for us as a people.
You see our bodies hold on to the stress and the trauma we experience if we don’t complete the stress cycle, if we don’t process the trauma. Our minds may have moved on, but our bodies have not.
Let’s honor our bodies today by prayerfully pausing before we press on.
I will begin with a reading of Psalm 46, a psalm we’ve already prayed together, but it feels especially fitting for us this week. I will follow with a prayer for Texas.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
O Comforting God,
Be our refuge and be our strength
Protect us with your mysterious peace
Make your restorative power known in Texas
Help your mercy to be known in this suffering world
Renew in us a new strength so we don’t grow weary
Help us to love our neighbors in times of suffering
Help us to rely on our neighbors in times of trouble
Help us to carry the burdens of our neighbors in times of exhaustion
Help us to keep safe, to protect ourselves and one another from Covid-19, as we rush to extend help and hospitality to our friends and neighbors.
God, our Rescuer
Be with our neighbors in Texas this week,
Be with our hungry neighbors, God.
Be with the Farmers
Be with the Grocery Suppliers
Be with the Truck drivers
And the Shelf stockers
Be with the Plumbers
Be with the Electricians
Be with the Insurance Agents
Who are fielding heavy calls, listening to story after story of devastation and loss.
Be with the ones with homes
And the ones without homes
And the ones in someone else’s home
who are praying that their landlord is gracious to them
as damage is assessed in the days and the weeks ahead.
God make us gracious. May we be gentle with one another in our shared suffering.
Be with our elected leaders
Be with our church leaders
Be with our caregivers and health workers
With our social workers and mental health providers
Be with our hourly workforce who have lost over a weeks worth of their wages
Be with our business owners who shut their doors longer than they planned
Be with the tired parents
And their stir crazy children
Be with those who have been stuck at home with an unsafe person
Be with the lonely ones who have weathered the storm alone
Be with the ones who now how a funeral to plan
A beloved loss of life to grieve
There are a lot of weary Texans in need of you, God
And I know that your mercies are new every morning.
Make those mercies known to us, God.
Now bring to our hearts and minds
The names and faces of our neighbors in Texas
Whom we are called to love, to care for, and to pray for this week
O Merciful God,
Give us relief from our distress
And from our sorrow and our fear
So that we can be light and feel light
And give away your light
To those whose lights have been turned off