Tuesday, November 22, 2011

6 Months Later, In Hopes

Today marks the six-month anniversary of that horrible, no-good, dirty F5 tornado.  Its memory is so sharp that I almost feel like it needs a name, like a hurricane would have, to designate it from any other tornado.  But we don't really need an official name for it.  We already have several that will do in a pinch.  Most of which aren't safe to use in polite company...

I thought today's anniversary would be the perfect time to have a discussion with you that's being sponsored by American Home Shield.  Though the post is sponsored by them, all thoughts within -- as always -- are my own.

I drove almost the entire route of the tornado's path yesterday. 

The sky was low -- so low that it pressed heavily against us on the ground.  Grey and soft and complete, it covered us like a downy blanket.  From one end of Joplin to the other, we were enfogged. 

It wasn't an unpleasant feeling to be driving through the tornado zone like this.  It felt protected somehow.  There are parts of town -- many, many parts -- that are still hard to look at, with their mangled trees and abandoned buildings, but with the low sky resting on them, even they felt protected.  Beloved.

And I know that they are; we are.  Joplin, as a whole, has become beloved to us all in a way that we've not known before.  On each destroyed lot, we notice as a foundation is layed.  We sigh in relief as the bare bones of a house are raised. 

We smile and even tear-up as the roof and bricks are placed.  We notice new grass, new flowers, new trees. 

Joplin has a distinct scent now.  It smells like fresh lumber and dark shingles.  It smells of sawdust.  Of hope.

We love it.  Each new growth of home or business or park is exciting and welcome, and we gather around it like we're getting our first glimpse of a long-expected newborn child.  We remark upon its beauty and relax into getting a feel for its permanence. 

But that's the thing --

We all have a different feel of permanence now. 

My home was not affected in the storm.  It stands, strong and complete as ever.  It's not the home that has changed in any way, it's my perception of the home.

I no longer feel like it's a guarantee.  It's only here right now, in this very moment.  It can be trespassed upon or broken or scattered, and nothing I can do will change those possibilities.

Inside its walls, there are things that make my life feel whole.  Comforting things and forgotten things and keepsake things.  There's a rocking chair in which my grandma spent hours reading and doing crosswords and snuggling babies.  There's a table hand-crafted by my husband's grandfather nearly 80 years ago.  There are blankies and photo albums and porcelain tea cups.

And since the tornado, I'm not only more appreciative of the structure itself, but of those tiny comforts and memories it houses.  The floorboards even hold significance: they were where my babies learned to sit, to crawl, to walk. 

All over town, people have mourned the loss of those things when the tornado destroyed their physical evidence.  All over town, new structures are being built, new neighborhoods are being reconstructed.

I think it's safe to say that with all of Joplin's new hope and feelings of being beloved, we've also embarked upon a new sensation of home.  The sensation of taking home with us wherever we land.

So driving through a broken but healing city that's enshrouded in low, thick clouds feels comforting.  It feels like we're about to have the grey blanket lifted off to reveal a new, shining home when the sun comes out again.

How does your definition of 'home' change in the face of joy or disaster?  Is home really 'where the heart is' for you, or will it forever be the place; the structure; the things?  And how do you create home wherever you land?

This conversation was sponsored by American Home Shield, provider of Home Warranty Services to help with the inevitable breakdown of major home appliances and components. I have been compensated for beginning this conversation.


  1. Home, for me, is the people who live within the four walls. A house is a house is a house.
    I'm glad your town smells like hope. I pray hope springs well into redemption.

  2. Yes, Hy! Absolutely. Without those people, the home would be worthless. While we're housed here in this fragile, hopeful home, I can definitely say that the people are the most important ingredient. They're the ones who would make relocation or loss of everything else bearable.

  3. I keep thinking if I wait to comment on this post, I'll think of something really smart to say, but it's just not happening. I'm glad for the update though.

    I'm still thinking a lot about the tornado and praying for your family -- and for Joplin.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?