Today is an anxious day. The largest air rescue since Hurricane Katrina thrashes air currents over Colorado skies. Searches for hundreds of missing people continue, even as gray clouds smother us in fear of what we cannot control. It seems utterly inconceivable that a state surrendering its ashes to scathing hot, cloudless blue only months before could so quickly feel the sky settling heavy and gray, a ponderous cloak of relentless deluge.
This morning I awake to the same intonation that lulled me to sleep – metallic clatter of water funneling through gutter and prattle of drizzle on my shingles. It seems to keep time with my racing heart.
I am grateful. I am safe and dry in a house still standing strong. But the incessant ebb and flow at our curb, swelling to a raging street river, then retreating again, keeps me ever cognizant of others who are suffering. My beloved state, beleaguered, brought to its knees in torrents of mud, knocked down yet again as another day of angry skies beat mercilessly on water-logged earth.
I’ve lived most of my life in this stunning state. I am prone to suddenly exclaim to my children, upon witnessing yet another ever-changing mood of Pikes Peak, “Do you realize how incredibly blessed we are to live here?!” I’ve wandered from a childhood of climbing trees west of Colorado Springs, then north to urban life in Denver in the shadows of sentry hills, then west to a quiet mountain community cradled in a valley, then northeast to plains flowing under towering skies, and back again to Colorado Springs. Friends and relatives smatter the front-range.
By text and email we check in – relatives finally locate one route open from Ft. Collins to check on their business in Longmont. Friends in Boulder shoulder sand-bags through the weekend. Members of our community keep their children home while Cheyenne Mountain School District repairs its facilities. Friends evacuated last night from the fringes of Greeley wonder when they will access school and workplace again; all bridges swept away. They all feel lucky simply to have homes still standing when many have lost everything, when some have lost their very lives.
Sometimes passages of life leave me feeling like water-logged earth. What is familiar is swept away. Torrents swirl within and without the saturated soil of my heart. The borders of my being shed new streams of rainfall like a cliff with no soil, no roots. Grief heaves a furious swollen flow. Tears meet water from the sky, trickle into the gutter, the stream, the river, the ocean. And when there is no room there, surely they flood the heart of God.
Certainly we will come out stronger. We already hear stories of heroism in Colorado, of communities pulling together. Members of the National Guard rushed to help the isolated town of Lyons, only to become stranded as well. They continue to labor for the safety of the community while they wait for rescue themselves. Strange how the darkest times often flush out the light in us. Just days ago I quoted a line from Rilke’s poem Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower, “What batters you becomes your strength.” And I still believe it is true. The sun will break through the clouds. In the words of the Psalms, “Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
But perhaps the beginning of strength is realizing how very weak I truly am, how desperately I need the strength of Another.
Tonight, let me feel my fragility. Tonight, let me sit by the swollen river with rain dripping from the hood of my jacket, and weep.