Saturday, May 8, 2010

Because Here in Nashville, God Is With Us in Our Deepest Need

Guest post by Julie Cragon

Nashville has pulled together as a family. This is due, in no small part, to the prayers of the faith-filled and the Holy Spirit working through our hands and feet.

Last Saturday, I sat in this very spot at
St. Mary's Bookstore and worried as creeks and drains began to fill due to the heavy amounts of rain. By late in the day, we were hearing of families pumping out basements due to flooding. Soon, stories of flooded basements turned into stories of moving furniture from first to second floors, which became stories of evacuations and boat rescues and then stories of total losses and even deaths.

On Thursday,  I went with two of my daughters to the St. Cecilia Motherhouse for an evening of prayer in their beautiful chapel, the center of their convent. I needed this time to listen in prayer and to contemplate the lives of those who could not come this night due to the recent flooding in Nashville. For me, it was pure peace amidst the storm.

Here in Nashville, people sought shelter and comfort from neighbors, and churches, and schools. Areas all around Nashville were affected in one way or another as every river and creek overflowed. The Cumberland River finally spilled over into downtown Monday, causing major damage to our businesses. Story after story began pouring in to the bookstore. Four employees were displaced from their homes by the flood. Everywhere people were gathering to help and everyone has played a part, be it by corporal or spiritual acts of mercy.

Those who can, tear out, and dig out, and clean. People work extra shifts for the families who need to stay home. Food and clothing and other necessities were donated in huge quantities. We attended funerals and buried our dead. Priests still are celebrating Masses despite the massive energy they are using to attend to the spiritual needs of our communities. Many took in families or took care of children so others could go work. Moms are substituting for our teachers and our principals. 

On Thursday night, as the Dominican Sisters prayed back and forth from one side of stalls across the aisle to the others, I was engulfed in the peace of Jesus Christ. Their movements, their complete full waist bows during any mention of the Trinity, the sprinkling of holy water and the candle lit procession to the Tabernacle occur every evening in their convents throughout the U.S. and now in Australia. Together with priests and sisters and brothers and many lay people throughout the world they pray the Liturgy of the Hours. They pray for us, for the world, for the victims of the flood. In this small monastic-like place, this group of Dominican Sisters make a difference.

Life goes on. There are still those in hospitals who need to be visited and they are. People are still dying of illness and old age. The elderly need to be cared for, and they are. I haven't talked to one person who has not physically or spiritually done something for someone else this week. People are tired and tempers are short and yet we are still coming together every day to care for one another and to love one another and to be a family. 

Here's a small example. I've been more worried than usual about not doing enough for the survivors. They're everywhere. The father of a  lifelong family friend  is dying from cancer and today the family is meeting at his house to decide about care and hospice and so on. A coworker texted me last night and said she'd like to cook for the family. I texted back this morning to say that I was going to leave them some bagels when I got his newspaper and I'd taken over something for them for lunch. She had made chicken salad and we were on target for me to run by at 8 before work. I got plenty of bagels to include everyone so I dropped some off for my children and I took some in for her family. She handed me the chicken salad and a brown bag lunch for me for today.  As we swapped meals I couldn't help but think that this is exactly how I'd like to describe Nashville: one hand feeding another, one heart loving another, one family, one faith, one. 

And then, just now, another incidence of God working through us. After I wrote these words this morning,  I opened a box at work to check in new merchandise. Inside were bracelets with a silver charm that reads, "Many Hearts, One Family" and the latch reads, "together."  What a nice connection to our week here.