I grew up in sight of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. I remember a scary night as Hurricane Gloria passed over us in 1985. My parents were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, taking months to recover. We had a "go box" of family photos and heirlooms if we needed to evacuate. I have always understood the power of hurricanes but also know the difference in possibility and probability.
Now as Hurricane Matthew is setting his sights somewhere on the East Coast, it is the first time that I have faced evacuation in 16 years of living in Charleston. As my son said last night "Mom, even though there is a ginormous hurricane on the way, you are pretty calm."
I choose to be calm (although I didn't sleep well last night) because panic will not help in this situation. Panic caused hour long waits for gas last night and all of the water being off the shelves of the grocery stores before midday. Panic clogs the interstate with people not following the evacuation routes. And this was 72 hours before possible landfall!
Last week I was visiting St. George's Episcopal Church in Summerville and had the opportunity to attend their healing service. We did the Ministration to the Sick liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer which I was not familiar with. I flipped through to see what else was around that service in the BCP and found my new favorite prayer..
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.
So today as I try to lie low patiently, I will remember that while we have the possibility of a hurricane coming ashore on Friday, the probability is that it will turn out to see and give the kids a soggy 5 day weekend off from school.
Please pray for the people already affected by the storm in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Cuba; for those farther along its path in The Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina; and be with all of the first responders that leave their own families to take care of ours.