I just got off the phone with my younger sister, who lives on PEI, and smiled with happiness for her and her family. Why? To begin with, I realize the surrounding circumstances today are nothing to smile about as the storm of storms hit the lands of the Maritimes, Hurricane Fiona. You betcha. It literally ripped its breadth and depth of wind, rain and storm surge steadily and violently throughout the Maritime provinces and eastern Quebec. The little nuggets in hope rode on the curtails to said storm. So I do a bit of a happy dance.
Why? She called me to let me know in an excited voice that “We’ve got HYDRO. Move out of the way hubby I’m taking a shower.” LOL. Yep priorities. No shower since Friday and it is now Monday night, Peppy Le Pew eat your heart out. When something is taken away from you, something you take for granted possibly, you appreciate it so much more. I am thinking to get her to forget the horribleness of storm and find a bit of hope….hydro = shower (did not even wait for water to be fully heated up). LOL.
She took me back to that time a few years ago, when I had the privilege to go to Kenya to help build schools with the Free the Children organization. Life changing. Life many areas where water is a precious natural resource but sorely lacking in good drinking and bathable water, one should not take for granted. The rule was we could have a shower every three days even if we stunk from the daily sweaty work of lifting or carrying heavy rocks or pushing a loaded wheel barrow of gravel, or digging ditches that would eventually serve for laying pipes down to bring clean water to rural communities. And let me tell you it was not a hotel kind of shower at all where you can run it for a bit in a tub with a shower curtain and fan going. Nope. Outside in the elements, a small green canvas tent, velcro taped, with a small area to place dry footwear and clean clothes and then step to shower area.
The makeshift shower itself was made out of what looked like a cut in half punching bag filled with warm glorious water with a spout on bottom and held up by chords at top. Unbelievably and most kindly, it was heated by one of the local Kipsigis men in the community whose job was to stand by a barrel behind the shower area (four showers in a row), fill the barrel with water that had to be brought up from who knows where, heat it with gathered wood (also not plentiful) and then take bucket of water and pour it in the top of the shower container. I remember.
The crazy unprecedented storm that has swept through and left hundreds of thousands of people without hydro and a chaotic mass of losses since the early of the earliest hours of last Saturday morning, you find your “shower”; in other words, the hope in the storm. I watched tirelessly since Saturday morning, trying to get any news of what was happening. Jumping from Nova Scotia to PEI to New Brunswick to Newfoundland, the news reporters tried to relay what was taking place. Of course the irony was that it was a serious storm where one should not be out and about. But the paradox of the situation was the contrary actions witnessed.
Each Premier and other official spokes people and news reporters relayed constantly to the public. Basically read my lips they were saying …. STAY INSIDE. STAY HOME. Did we not just go through a pandemic? A pandemic which was invisible to witness for many. Hard to stay away. So a hurricane, cyclone, storm of storms….not going to happen. Humans are cut from the same cloth. Nosy. It is like telling a bull to stay put as the bullfighter whips around the red flag. No means yes in the human world. Got to know. Right? I think people are naturally drawn to the drama or need to know. A catch 22 novelette. The safety of the people versus the surreal happening to their very lives. I would even say it is a need. And after witnessing the real fall out of the aftermath of Fiona. Oh my, I get it.
Although having said that, it is not fair really. For time and time again I have heard the stories on news and social media, helping thy neighbour. So getting out there when one shouldn’t, are we not all neighbours? In times of suffering, tragedy, catastrophe, celebration, we go. So maybe it is a bit of both. Nosy neighbouring.
I do have to laugh though because one news reporter on Saturday was sharing what he could report to the public and he stood outside a Tim Horton’s. It was the only Tim’s in NS opened (not sure where) that had hydro too!!!. And here was the reporter reporting that we are to STAY HOME. But the line up for Tim’s was down the road and around the bend on Saturday morning. What the goodness and all that is holy!! Did they not just get through a scary ordeal? Well the hope of Tim’s being open….there is the shower for them? What do you need after the storm? My dad and I laughed at that. Seriously. What were they thinking?!
With a silent confession of deep prayer, I am seeking forgiveness to not being there to do my part in cleanup, supporting others and having these selfish thoughts here. I do want to wrap my arms around my daughter and grandkids, sister and family and friends from the island. But for whatever reason, just like in 2019, I missed the huge storm of Dorian; my hydro out for a week. I have a feeling this one will be longer. For whatever reason, outside of one tree down blocking my lane, and hydro line to my house down by fallen tree, my home survived. I have nothing, absolutely nothing to complain about. That is my shower.
So with heartfelt sympathy and prayers for the days and weeks and months ahead for the Maritime people, to pray that they find strength and courage to face what is before them. My heart hurts for the losses that have unfolded in the last few days. I guess when it happens somewhere else, it is like an event. It does not seem to resonate. But the thing is all of these events are not just events to those involved. They are a forever, a hit to home. It goes from outside surreal to inside real in a heart beat. Life changing. One 94 year old man I listened to being interviewed today said it for me, “I have never seen anything like it. ” And with a pause, looking directly at the camera, he said with a hitch in voice, “I do not want this to happen again.” You said it young man. You said it.
I cannot begin to imagine the waking eyes. There is a resilience that comes with tragedy. Not sure how it comes to be but it does. The capacity of the human heart gives hope in a storm. Blessings.
Let us pray for those in need of prayers. for the families and communities affected by Hurricane Fiona and for the human capacity to love thy neighbour always. Amen.