. . . to my hurt?
The flood that devastated two-thirds of the community of Joliet--where I live--is hurting tonight. Oh, you won't hear too many complaints about the devastation that the flood put upon the community, but there is a silent ache, a quiet hurt, that is there. No, the people still have a sense of humor--still joke about the flooding, but there is a pain that lies just beneath the surface. But this is Montana with its mile wide streak of independence and "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" mentality that will keep that hurt just below the surface. Despite the humor you can see it in the people's eyes. This flood has taken it toll on the people of Joliet.
Basically the people of the community heard that they are pretty much on their own as far as cleaning up and restoring their homes and the community. There would be no help from the federal or state governments. County government had their hands tied. There were bigger problems than the Joliet flood right here in Montana and beyond. Insurance companies were of no help--unless you happened to have had a flood insurance policy. If the people were to get things done they were on their own.
Throughout this ordeal I have been amazed at the apathy of the community around me. I have had little--almost no respond-- from those in my Facebook community of friends. Makes me wonder what the purpose is of having all those "friends". In my clergy circle of friends I have heard very little and actually have only had two contacts from my clergy buddies. Outside of others from the community of Joliet and my family . . . well, I have heard little. This saddens my heart and makes me feel lonely. The community I have chosen to live in--to call home--makes little difference to the world beyond the boundaries of Joliet. No one cares.
I recognize the fact that the world has been more than a little crazy the past couple of weeks--we still have wars waging, natural disasters like Joplin, Missouri, and just plain old craziness all around us. I understand that we are in a recession and things are tough for all of us. I understand that all of us have our lives with ups and downs. What I do not understand--what I cannot comprehend--is the silence from those who I thought cared. The silence is deafening.
I do not want financial contributions. I do not want aid sent our way. What I want is to hear that someone recognizes the hurt that the people and community of Joliet feels. What I want is someone to say that they care . . . that they will listen . . . that they will just sit with any of us for just a while. I just want someone to acknowledge, even if for a moment. that they care. To know that I and the people of Joliet are not alone.
The community of Joliet has risen to the occasion. The community has taken to heart that if anyone is to care it is going to start right where the people are--it is going to happen from those affected the most. I have been amazed at the outpouring of neighborliness and compassion from the community towards one another. I have witnessed people helping one another--caring for one another--just being with one another. I have been amazed at the compassion I have seen. From pumping out a basement to hauling water-logged belongings to sandbagging--everyone is helping one another. More importantly I have received more hugs than any introvert could ever sustain in a lifetime . . . and I did not flinch even once. I have been astonished by the care of this community. If no one else will care, we will care.
The wife and I were among the fortunate of Joliet as the flood waters never got to our part of town. We were among the lucky and for that we are both thankful. Others--two-thirds of the community--were not as fortunate as we were. These are the folks who hurt and their hurt has become my hurt as I have walked around the community offering to be of any assistance I can be. It has been tiresome work--this compassion stuff, but well worth the effort. Well worth the effort to let someone else know that I care.
I apologize if this seems to be a rant born out of fatigue, but I just cannot understand the lack of response from those I thought cared. Yet, at the same time, in an indirect way, I understand. Compassion is a lot of work when one is willing to allow one's self to be the presence of another's hurt. It is tiresome . . . it is painful . . . yet so healing. There are just moments in all of our lives when we need to be held and listened to. That is the thing I miss the most throughout this whole flooding situation.
May we all pause for a moment from the hectic lives we live and consider for a moment this idea of "compassion". Compassion is not the mere words that we speak--those are a dime a dozen. No, compassion is putting ourselves in the presence of others. That is the presence we, the community of Joliet, need the most.
So, who will listen to the hurt--my hurt and beyond? Will you?