Does anyone remember the song “Winds of Change” by the German band, Scorpions? I know I’m appealing to a certain age demographic when I refer to this song…but, for those of you reading who were steeped in the big-haired power ballads of the early 90’s…you now have the awesome whistling intro stuck in your head, don’t you? Heh…you’re welcome. (For everyone else reading this blog who have NO idea what I’m talking about…click here for a YouTube preview). Man, I loved that song. In high school I used to sway…head back and eyes closed…because I thought it was just super that the “children of tomorrow could dream away in the winds of change.” Bless my heart.
May 22, 2011 literally brought gale force winds of change to Joplin, Missouri. 200+ mile and hour… winds of change. It was the most catastrophic renovation most of us will ever experience in this lifetime and what’s worse…we only had 17 minutes to prepare for it.
I know there are some of you reading this blog who aren’t in Joplin…and I really want you to taste the acuity of gale force change. So, let’s try something...ok? I want you to picture the most populated area of your city. Businesses and homes all kind of jammed together on street after street in the city center. Can you see it? Is it in your mind? Are you picturing it? Ok, good…now set your mental odometer and drive 12 miles. Got it? Are you behind the wheel? Passing the Walmart on your left…and the AT&T store on your right? Now imagine that …POOF…everything is gone. The grocery store where you used to shop…your dentist…your church…your school…your bank…everything in those 12 miles reduced to rubble in a matter of minutes. 500 businesses. 8,000 dwellings. 18,000 cars. All destroyed. And now you’re standing in the middle of a once familiar street…spinning in a circle…and you don’t even recognize your own home. That’s the reality of our winds of change…
It’s been a month now…the news cameras have retreated, most flags are at full mast, relief tents are disappearing and Joplin’s infamous tornado no longer fills headlines. But …friends…the enormity of change is just now beginning to settle on this beloved city. I knew it was going to happen…I braced myself for it. And yet…I’m daily surprised by how and where it surfaces.
The change that has crept into my life is more than just having to drive out of my way to get fresh produce…it’s more than the inconvenience of a transformed landscape. I know that we have all experienced this storm in different ways, and I would never presume to speak for everyone….but I can speak for myself. So, here goes…here are some personal glimpses into the winds of my change:
1. I now prefer to turn left out of my driveway. Turning right still makes me sick to my stomach…but not because I’m sickened by the rubble. No…my stomach churns because the site of devastation is becoming my new normal.
2. For the first time in years…I feel single. I’ve never really felt single before…and that’s saying something considering that I’m a 34 year old woman living in the Marriage Capital of the Universe. And yet…other than the occasional (cyclical) lament…I’ve sincerely enjoyed being footloose and fancy free. In fact, I felt a sense of PURPOSE in being a joyful single female in a marriage-happy culture. But now…now the desire for love and marriage feels like it’s on the surface of my skin. I feel an unfamiliar urgency to have someone hold my hand.
3. I used to have this secret little ritual…where every time I heard a siren, I would stop and pray for whoever that siren was intended. I just figured that no matter the severity…if there was a siren…there was strife. So, for years and years…no matter where I was or what I was doing…if I heard the familiar sound of wailing, I’d pause and talk to God about it. But now…well, now my blood freezes and I get a giant lump in my throat. When it comes to sirens, my prayers have turned to whimpers…
4. Living an abundant life now includes a beautiful, rich subtext. I can’t really explain this change…other than to say…it’s almost like I was given another level of awareness. Even in the midst of such profound disruption…I’m getting a very tangible taste of peace beyond my understanding.
5. Status quo? What’s that? My life changed with only 17 minutes of warning. And strangely,…there’s something very liberating about that. I now have undeniable proof that things are superfluous…and healthy relationships are pure sustenance.
6. These days, my roommates and I often wander into conversations about restoration. We talk about how we now live in a city that reminds us daily that no matter how many trucks or man power you throw at something…restoration takes time. What a great picture of life down here.
7. A few days ago I got online and intentionally looked up pictures of Japan’s tsunami. Empathy is a powerful thing, friends. Powerful. And although I wouldn’t wish this level of empathy on my worst enemy…I also see it as a precious gift.
8. And maybe the strangest change of all… I now share very personal thoughts and feelings in an open-access online medium. Holy cow.
You know…even as I’m typing this, I pause to wonder WHY in the world I’m all of the sudden willing and eager to open the hatches of my mind and heart to a veritable gaggle of friends, family, and complete strangers. Well, I guess it’s because I assume if you’re reading this blog…then you too have known the winds of change. And if sharing bits and pieces of my life causes you to dream and long more acutely for the Rock of Ages…well then, by golly…keep dreaming, children of tomorrow…keep dreaming.
(cue “Winds of Change” whistling intro)