Irma and Then…

You sit alone in a hotel staring at a clock that goes same as always, minute by minute. The news has been the same for three days. Bad. Hurricane Irma will be historic, so massive nobody can really comprehend the immediate or long term impact. You’ve done what millions of stalwart Floridians have also reluctantly agreed to do: run!  

As 24 hours becomes 48, you’ve run out of regular food. Restaurants have closed. Your cooler has dwindling water and the cheap wine you bought at Walgreens standing in long lines with other statewide evacuated folk. You laugh ironically at the idea of rationing fig newtons, cashew nuts and caramel popcorn, all that’s left from the snacks you packed three days ago, thinking there’d be more of whatever you needed because this is America and there’s always more of what we need as long as we are willing to buy.

The cell phone is firing away. People you usually hear from call; people you expected to hear from don’t; people you haven’t heard from in years or months blowing you up: “Everything okay?! We are praying!” 

You pour wine into a Disney Minnie Mouse tumbler designed for  kids because the Orlando based Walgreens was out of adult plastic red cups.  You sip and begin to reassess some things: How precious life is, but also how precious our genuine and lifelong connections with others. In the midst of the discomfort and disruption of a possibly life altering hurricane, your heart expands. You love those who love you. You recognize that real love isn’t earned or begged for, isn’t the stuff you jump through hoops to find or keep but rather is the “storm” that has gathered and spread over your life all these years even when you weren’t paying attention. You get hit with the Category 5 strength of that realization. Inside, you grow just as big as Irma, as big as your faith in the Creator of all that was and ever will be, as big as the Great Spirits of our Ancestors urging us to wake up and live higher, better, stronger in love, respect and resilience. 

You let go of trivial and even justified fears and decide to love back. In a room, alone, uncertain, looking at a clock that ticks minute by minute. And you let gratitude flood you, breach every wall that a hard knock life has tried to build around you. Take this time not just to figure how to survive but rebuild more solid and better than ever! 

You write on a iPhone note pad, waiting for this to end so you can begin again and whisper, “Ase and Amen.”