“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.” -Charles Dickens
In recent days, I simply cannot bring myself to write about my usual little pleasures and happy thoughts. My mind has been in a sad fog since Sunday evening around 7:30 when I learned that my hometown of Joplin, Missouri was decimated by one of the worst natural disasters in American history. You've no doubt seen the tornado footage on CNN or NBC. You've probably read newspapers describing the tragedy or heard the first-person accounts.
But today, I wanted to come to you from my heart and ask you to help in anyway that you can. Imagine your spouse's body shielding your's as the roof is ripped from your home. Imagine seeing your home of decades reduced to lumber. Imagine all of your photo albums, souvenirs, heirlooms, little treasures---GONE, forever. But more importantly, imagine all of this compounded by the loss of life, the loss of pets, or injury to your loved ones. Imagine not being able to locate your son or daughter for days or not being able to hear the voice of your parents on the phone.
Rather than merely clicking through slide shows on news websites or watching Anderson Cooper each night, do something to help these people, my friends. Give to the Red Cross or United Way. If you can't give, pray. If you don't pray, think. If you don't think about this, nothing good will come of this devastation. Remember how much you have, how little material things mean, and how much you should treasure and adore your family and friends. For in a dark and stormy moment, it could all be snatched up into the sky. Don't forget that.
I spent years one to eighteen in Joplin, Missouri. I have nothing but happy memories of this town that built me. From walking with my friends and a trusty yellow Labrador to my elementary school each day to taking dance classes for fourteen years at the same studio (which is now destroyed) to hope-filled high school graduation and happy bridal showers, Joplin made me who I am.
Joplin taught me to cherish my little family of four and our silly, joyful memories made over years in the same house. Joplin taught me that friends are all made of different fabrics but together they form a beautiful and unique tapestry. Joplin taught me that a city isn't made of fancy freeways and elaborate shopping centers and sports teams. Joplin showed me, especially in recent days, that a city is made of people with heart. People who will huddle together when storms pass overhead and people who will dig through the rubble, elbow-to-elbow, after the winds still.
Think of your own Joplin. Think of the place that made you. Think of the people who taught you in school, who brought you up and made you. And hold that place in your heart forever. For in an instant, it could be made unrecognizable, forever changed.
Image borrowed from CNN.