Monday, April 28, 2014

Praying for Tupelo.

Spring in the South is one of the things I miss most. Every single year, I dream about Azaleas blooming, Buttercups blossoming and the Dogwoods peppering the woods in my beloved Mississippi. And no sooner can I type a Facebook status about just that thing than my newsfeed starts blowing up with weather-related news, friends posting pictures from their windowless basements, or of them taking cover in their bathrooms. Because just as surely as my memories of Spring in the South are decorated with Azalea blossoms, they are accompanied by the soundtrack of tornado sirens and weatherman warnings.

Today, a tornado ripped through my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. It is too early to know how much damage was done. But the early photos are shocking, sobering and are breaking my heart. I spent the afternoon directing a play under blue Arizona skies while simultaneously strapped to my phone trying to get in touch with my Mama in Mississippi.

Mama was safely tucked in the basement of a church that ended up being right smack in the path of the tornado. She is ok. But her car is buried under uprooted trees and she had to be evacuated from the church because the damage the building sustained caused a gas leak. My nerves are a bit taut tonight.

And my thoughts are all over the board:

I am thankful to my cousin, Kevin, who called minutes after I got through to my mother. He knew, he knew I would be feeling worried and helpless. What a blessing to have this Godly man willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus go and rescue my mother from the shelter, take her to check on her house and pick up her necessary medications (and make-up...I love you, Mama) before taking her home with him to his precious family. I have spent a lot of time thanking God for him tonight.

I am thinking about Vanelli's. Oh, the best pizza I have ever tasted came from this restaurant. It started as a hole in the wall joint. A very young Wade and I had our very FIRST date there. The pizza melted in our mouths and one bite takes me right back...right back to that sweet night. The restaurant relocated not long after we married. They built a nicer establishment, expanded their menu and continued to make the best pizza ever. But today's tornado destroyed Vanelli's. And while, I pray they will re-build, I am saddened for their loss tonight.

I am remembering my Aunt Flora who had a storm shelter in her yard and would call us -- every aunt, uncle and cousin -- every time the Spring weather was questionable. We didn't have to watch the weather. We trusted her to do it for us. Mom and Dad would load us up and over to Aunt Flora's we would go. I know now I should have been scared. And I am certain I was at some point. But mainly, mainly I remember this great adventure of driving across town in my pajamas and having a sleepover with my cousins underground -- in our pajamas!

I am thinking about a Girl Scout outing when I was 10. We were camping at the Natchez Trace and though bad weather was forecast, the park rangers had assured the moms in charge they would come for us if necessary. We heard the storm raging around us. We giggled and told ghost stories and finally fell asleep to the rain only to be jerked awake by our leaders because the Rangers had come to get us out of the cabins. It seems that night a tornado ripped through my hometown too. It destroyed restaurants, a mall and homes. But missed a couple of park cabins filled with Girl Scouts on the Natchez Trace.

And finally tonight, I am thinking about the way my hometown came together after that tornado; how the people of Tupelo took care of their citizens, rebuilt, revitalized and came away stronger for the destruction. And tonight, I am asking God to grant them that same strength in the wake of today's storms. The light of day will reveal the damage tomorrow. I can only imagine the fear, pain and heart break that will be visible. Stand strong Tupelo. You have walked this road before. You will come away stronger. You will come away better than ever.

Our prayers are with you.

3 comments:

Joanne Cunningham said...

Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful piece.

Joanne Cunningham said...

Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful piece.

Joanne Cunningham said...

Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful piece.