How quiet and peaceful the weather is this Sunday compared to a week ago today when Irma was howling and beating horizontal rain against our windows. It was an intense, noisy, fascinating, unforgettable, and scary experience! My sister stayed with us in our home here in Vero Beach and, as the storm progressed, I kept thinking how difficult it would be to be alone during this kind of weather experience. There was comfort in our togetherness as we felt our building vibrate, saw gutters come down, shingles lift off a portion of a neighbor’s roof, and trees fall. But it could have been so much worse!
As the hurricane moved north and we all began coming out of our homes, acts of kindness became abundant, as though angels were working in concert to meet the many needs left in Irma’s wake. I am so deeply moved by our own experience, and the stories told to me by others, that I wanted to share some of them with you.
My sister lives in a neighborhood of elders who needed help putting storm shutters up as Irma approached. The people hired to do the job left a number of homes undone. When the young woman who cleans my sister’s house heard this, she determined to take care of the problem. On her own time Saturday, she and a muscular male friend arrived and took care of shuttering all the homes she works in every week and let all the residents (who had been ordered to evacuate) know there was no need to worry – their windows were protected.
My hair stylist shared how all the young people in her neighborhood put storm shutters up for their elderly residents. They made sure everyone had food, which included inviting those living by themselves to join the family for dinner. As soon as a need was known, help was provided.
After the hurricane my sister and I were sitting on our front porch when three women from our neighborhood drove by and asked how we were doing. We responded with assurances that we were fine but the power was off. Then they asked us if we needed anything and we lightly said yes, we need ice, thinking of our slowly warming refrigerator. An hour later the same three women came to our front door with two large bags of ice (How did they find this when every store seemed to be out?) that were the saving of the food in our refrigerator. They would not let me reimburse them, insisting it was a gift. I told them they were Irma Angles.
A utilities pole came down in the yard of my chiropractor requiring a crew of workers and several hours of hard work. His wife fired up their grill and made everyone hamburgers along with a steady flow of cold drinks. The workers were very grateful for the break and the food!
Walking into a store I was hailed by one of the employees I often see when shopping. This was Friday and she was still out of power. Every night people with restored power offered her a place to stay so she could get a good night’s rest. Her niece, wanting to help her aunt, stopped where several power trucks were parked and talked to one of the crew. She explained where her aunt lived and asked why her aunt didn’t have power yet. The man said they had serviced that area but he would personally look into what happened and take care of it himself. And he did.
A family trying to return home was caught needing gas. The gas station was waiting for a delivery so cars were lined up hopefully. The family was exhausted, travel weary, hungry, and looking for a place to spend the night. A man, who had gas in his car and had come to the station for something else, saw how weary and stressed the family was. Approaching them he introduced himself and quickly realized what they needed. He and his wife offered the family a small vacation house they had nearby that had sustained no damage from the storm and still had power. The family could spend a night or two there while waiting for gas. The man and his wife took the family out to dinner and then to their vacation house, which lifted everyone’s spirits and the faith that natural disasters can bring out the best in people.
There are so many more stories to tell! Today’s local newspaper has more inspiring accounts of people reaching out to others with kindness, compassion, and generosity. Sometimes angels have familiar faces and sometimes they come as complete strangers, but the level of giving that Irma has stimulated can make all of us proud of the community and county we live in. Other areas hit harder will need long-term help, but those needs will also be met. This quote from Adyashanti says it all: “Grace is all around us, if we only have the eyes to see it.”
Until Next Time – Sylvia