Thursday, September 07, 2017

September Storms

As I write, the winds of September are howling in the Caribbean and menacing most of Florida. Hurricane Irma is dallying at the southernmost tip of Florida. Dire predictions of destruction, loss of electricity and flooding threaten not only Florida but Georgia, and the two Carolina's. In the early 1990's I was assigned to Charleston, South Carolina. That charming city endured some of the worst of the 1989 Hurricane Hugo. A year later, in 1990 I took part in my sister's wedding near Charleston. I remember the sights of boarded up homes and ripped palmetto trees at the upper end of what is now fashionable King Street. My brother-in-law grew up in Charleston. Our nephew Ben and his family live in a beautiful new Charleston subdivision. My sister lives a few miles east of Columbia, SC. She and her husband are preparing for the onslaught of Irma and the two storms trailing behind her. Though they live more than 100 miles from the Carolina Coast, they are preparing for whatever may come in the wake of these September storms. Hurricane Matthew downed 15 large trees on their land in 2016. Thanks to satellites and learned meteorologists we know how to prepare for these storms that usher in the school year. Storms bring out the worst and the best in human nature. My niece told me how she witnessed a near brawl in a grocery store as a man and a woman fought over packed water bottles. Neither of the two heeded the store manager's pleas to leave enough water for the long line of folks waiting patiently. I suspect that both parties still had clean running water in their homes. They could have used their own containers to store potable water. Others manifest the best in our human nature by going out of their way to assist others. Our Sisters from Miami are staying with a family in Orlando. My sister is welcoming her teacher friend, and possibly our nephew and his wife and one year old son. The storm triggers many works of mercy. To give shelter to the homeless is one of the seven corporal works of mercy. From New England I look at the TV satellite images and hear the near constant warnings repeatedly broadcast, it is easy to feel very much afraid.
I pray for those in the hurricane paths: a niece and her husband in Naples, cousins in the middle of Florida, our two nieces in Columbia, SC and cousins in North Carolina. What I can do now is pray for all those in danger from these destructive winds and flooding rains. I pray that God will have mercy on all the people in the storm's path. I experienced a close call with a hurricane several years ago in Miami. The eye of that storm was 40 miles east of Miami. Any minute it could have moved west and destroyed much of Miami. Another storm was trailing behind it. I woke up in the middle of the night. Wind sneaking in through jalousie windows made siren-like noises. I peeked out from one of the jalousies to see all our street's palm trees bent at right angles as though they were bowing to a monarch. Huge palm branches lie in the middle of the deserted roadway. I prayed for all of us in the path of that swirling force so close to land. The date was very much the same as this week's. The Feast of the Birthday of Mary is tomorrow. That year (I believe it was 1979) a Mass of thanksgiving celebrated the city's liberation from the hurricane. It veered a bit to the east and them struck land in a much less populated area.
People had prayed to Jesus' Mother Mary under the title of Our Lady of Charity, Nuestra Senora de la Caridad. Through her intercession Miami and all of south Florida was spared. Let us continue to pray to Mary, Our Lady of Charity, and Star of the Sea to protect us all from all storms, both weather generated or spiritual or emotional.

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