Katrina, and her younger sister, Rita, came crashing onto center stage, terrorizing those living in the hurricanes’ paths and upsetting the rest of us. Lives were taken. Life, for millions, was turned upside down, even as they count their blessings: “At least we survived,” they said.
Those of us who were out of harm’s way sat and watched with alarm, concern and compassion. There were several aspects that shook us up–all of us.
For those caught in the storm the survival instinct kicks in. Biologically, life is the uncertain interval between birth and death. Survival is the filling in the sandwich. We know that change is constant and loss is inevitable. But it should be gradual.
The human mind has a life of its own: you are what you think. A rabbi in Jerusalem says he thinks hurricane Katrina was punishment from God for President Bush’s support of the evacuation of Jews from the Gaza Strip. “It was God’s retribution – God does not short-change anyone,” said Rabbi Ovadia Yosef during his weekly sermon. I can’t imagine believing in that kind of god. To think you know the mind of God is pure idolatry.
The human spirit has a life of its own. You are what you love. Paul’s letter summarized it: “So faith, hope and love, abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Cor. 13
We were shocked; first by the ferocious storm; then we were shocked as we watched the desperation of the survivors—we identified with them. They could be us.
Then we were shocked by the lack of adequate response to those left stranded, without food and water, in the Superdome and Convention Center in New Orleans, on rooftops and the upper floors of buildings. We expected more from all levels of government. We felt anxious and powerless.
Those uprooted by the storms are beginning the long process of rebuilding their lives—starting over. They had to let go of material things, which isn’t easy, especially in a culture that says ‘you are what you own.’ But they are thankful to be alive and to have family who survived.
Now, those of us who watched from a safe distance, want to help, each in our own small way. We’ve started a special fund to help First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans. Their survival as a congregation depends on it. Their building was severely damaged but can be repaired. The congregation is temporarily dispersed—some may never return.
On Sunday afternoon, October 16 at 4 p.m. there will be a fund-raising concert featuring the Errante/Cho piano trio and two groups from Norwalk Youth Symphony Ochestra: Trio Alliance and Trio Esprit.
Lois and Richard Errante and Kyong Cho will perform several pieces, including a repeat performance of the elegy Ed Thompson composed in honor of Keith and Scott Coleman, victims of 9/11. Donations at the door, checks to the Unitarian Church in Westport with notation ‘for Katrina fund.’ A dessert-reception to follow.
I hope you’ll plan to attend, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.