On Sunday night, as thunder rattled our windows, I waxed emotional about my own memories of tornado watches and thunderstorms as a child. But the events of yesterday afternoon in Moore, OK, rendered everything I wrote pretty much meaningless. While I was waiting for comments and views on what I thought was a decent little piece, an actual real tornado was destroying an actual real town, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
I’ve seen a lot of disasters on a lot of 24-hour news broadcasts. You probably have too. We might pay lip service, but we aren’t usually affected by it. But the Moore tornado has hit something a lot closer to the heart for me. Whether by my little Nazarene circle of friends and family, or simply living close by, I have a lot of friends who have settled in the Oklahoma City area. A ton more have other connections there, either friends or family. My Facebook feed was filled with people not just offering their sympathy, but many others expressing fear and concern for specific friends and loved ones who were unaccounted for. So far I haven’t heard any of any tragic losses that they have suffered, but it did a fair bit to shake me out of my routine and put it on my mind. And then I thought about the school where so many kids were hurt and injured, and the effect was not unlike that of the Sandy Hook shootings this past December, though thankfully without the horrible pit of human darkness that accompanied that awful event.
There’s something very selfish about only caring about a tragedy when it breaks through that little barrier that separates us from the rest of the world. But then I’m sure a lot of other people experienced something similar. It’s impossible to know how to respond to stuff like this. We fumble around with words and shallow status updates, but a lot of it is out of obligation or societal pressure to say something. It’s of course important to donate to the appropriate charities, to give blood, and to offer prayers and other support. But while we do those things, we must never forget to simply be present. Moore and the Oklahoma City area is grieving. Let us come beside them and grieve with them.