“All we have left is each other.”
Those are the words of a friend and former newspaper colleague who retired to Ft. Myers Beach a few years ago. She and her husband are now in Spain on a long-planned vacation, but she knows from pictures and reports from friends and neighbors that when they come home there will be no home. They are among the thousands who know they are lucky to be alive, but who now face figuring out how to live when everything they own is gone.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes to the people reminding them that we are not just individuals, we are all members of the body of Christ. That is what it means to be the Church, to recognize that each person brings unique qualities that are needed by the whole. “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it,” he writes. In a time when our nation is so divided these are important words to remember. We need one another; what happens to one affects us all.
Now the people of Florida are suffering, and we need to help them. The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida encompasses all the areas that have been most directly hit by the storm. They have set up a hurricane relief fund. We will be making a generous donation from St. Dunstan’s. If you would like to donate to this effort you may do so in two ways. You can go directly to their website, www.episcopalswfl.org, and donate online. Or you may make a check to St. Dunstan’s marked for hurricane relief and we will include it with the church’s donation. The vestry will approve the amount of the donation at its October 11 meeting. If you’d like to donate through St. Dunstan’s, please have your check to us by October 16.
Last month I began participating in an online group called Contemplative Photography. Each Sunday morning we receive an email with a word or idea that we are to reflect on and try to capture in a photograph that week. This morning the prompt was “funny/sad.” Photograph something humorous, and something sad. I immediately thought of pictures of burrowing owls that I took on a photography trip to Southwest Florida and the Everglades a few years ago.
The burrowing owls and their expressions are hilarious, and make me smile each time I see them. But today these photos also make me sad because they were taken in Cape Coral, Florida, one of the areas hit hardest by Ian. We also photographed bald eagles there, in a nest that is almost 50 years old. Along with worrying about the people, I worry about the animals whose habitats are forever changed. But on the news this morning I heard of another eagles’ nest in the area that had been blown away in the storm. Yesterday the eagles were back at the same tree, beginning to build a new nest. There’s a message of resilience and hope in the face of adversity!
I leave you with this prayer now on the website of the Episcopal Church of St. Michael’s and All Angels on Sanibel Island:
God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to all as we wait in uncertainty. Bring hope and peace with whatever lies ahead. Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided. For your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you.