Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not Just Another "Laundry Event"

The washer has given me some problems, but the shaking I felt just after starting another load seemed different somehow. When I looked up and saw the kitchen swaying back and forth, I realized this was not just another “laundry event”. Rose asked, “What’s going on?”, and I responded “Earthquake!” Then, another thought occurred to me. “…unless something hit the house.” Whichever it was, I didn’t want us to be inside if the house collapsed.

Without even thinking, I found myself grabbing Rose by the shoulders and moving her out of the kitchen towards the front door. I was not aware of any rumbling noise. I was aware of seeing a hanging bell in the china cabinet swaying back and forth, Though I did not hear it ringing, I do remember the tinkling sound of glassware and knickknacks sliding around. By the time we reached the front door, all the quaking had ended. Once we were out of the house, I walked around the yard, looking for a fallen tree or a wayward car, but found only a quiet, deserted neighborhood. After a minute, the sound of barking dogs began, and though I saw no one, I heard some male voices calling across their yards to each other.

Everybody will have their stories of the East Coast Earthquake of 2011. Friends in my area all chimed in on our social media site. A few were able to contact family members, but for most, the cell phone service was out. Evacuated buildings in business districts remained closed until safety inspections could clear them for occupation. Idle employees chose to head home, only to become trapped by gridlock on the highways. But as I looked around me, I could see no damage, inside or out, and initial TV reports seemed to confirm that. There seemed to be little evidence that an earthquake had taken place. Our lights hadn’t even blinked, and no buildings or structures had collapsed. Reports of the extent of the affected area continued to grow, starting in Mineral, Virginia and eventually reaching from Georgia all the way to Canada, and as far west as Chicago. A quake of 5.8, affecting such a wide area, might have devastated some regions of the world. Why didn’t that happen here in Bowie, Maryland, only a hundred miles from the epicenter?

Yes, the early opinion was that damage was limited or non-existent, but by the end of the day, that proved to be wrong. All evening, the news reported that structural damage would keep buildings all across the area closed. My stop at the local discount store later proved fruitless, since the store had not been reopened because of damage to the roof. The local school district reported that many of the public school buildings had suffered so much damage that school had been canceled for the next day. There were reports of buckled pavement, and one condemned building. In D.C., many government buildings remained closed, and the National Cathedral had lost at least one of its towers.

So maybe my question has answered itself. Damage had been done, but it took a while before it was revealed.

Inside Rose’s house, a porcelain lighthouse lay in pieces on the floor, unnoticed for an hour. We had been so relieved that everything appeared okay, we hadn’t really looked closely for minor damage. Isn’t that typical? We have schedules to follow, and obligations to meet, and if something interferes we do a quick fix, then turn our attention back to the “normal, everyday” stuff. Often, damage, injury, and pain don’t show up immediately. When negative life events impact children or relationships, they may need more than just a cursory glance or a quick hug.

It’s times like this that will show your true devotion and concern. It’s also times like this that will show your lack of the same.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Maryland...No, Michigan...No, Maryland

Who would have guessed? Even I didn’t know, but it must be true. Debbie Engle is currently attending The 2011 Faithwriters Conference, and yet, here I am in Bowie, Maryland. You may suggest that it must be another person who happens to share my name, but if you look closely, you will recognize my face. I’m told she hasn’t said much, and that, too, would be further evidence of the startling truth…I am twins!

How I could have come this far through life without figuring this out is beyond me. Through all the lonely and difficult times, why didn’t I know there was someone so much like me who would surely understand my sad and confused thoughts? Someone who would welcome my calls to share news, good or bad? Being a twin must be special, but not so much if you don’t even know about it until you’re, umm, … older.

Well, I have a feeling this conference won’t benefit my twin much, since she can’t hear. She can’t get around by herself either, so she may not make it to very many sessions. She’s actually not a good candidate to take part in a writer’s conference, but she’s there for my benefit. There are others there, just like her, and they are helping the cause by putting a smile on the face of several Faithwriters who could not attend this conference.

My twin is known as Flat Debbie. Somebody printed out a headshot of me and glued it to a cutout body. It’s all been done in fun, but it makes a pretty big statement. At Faithwriters, we support each other. When someone hurts, we hurt with them, and we pray for them. When someone finds success, we all celebrate. Taking Flat Debbie, and Flat Pat, and Flat Chelly, and Flat Marianne, and all the others to the conference in Michigan is their way of encouraging those who couldn’t be there. That’s what Faithwriters do.

That’s what God does, too. I don’t need a twin to find the comfort or understanding I need, because He will always be there for me, and He knows me better than even a twin could ever know me. As his children, we should always be ready to reach out to others with encouragement, or comfort, or celebration. Whether it’s through your church, or a group such as Faithwriters, caring about others and showing it by how you live your day-to-day life is just basic stuff –Christianity 101, so to speak--but what an impact it can have. Diana spent her time and resources to encourage me, as well as a bunch of other people. I believe we are all happy to be included in Faithwriters’ biggest event of year in such a fun, creative way. It has put a smile on my face and in my heart. Thanks, Sister.