This is what I know from my 30 years here. Thunderstorms and heat waves, cold snaps and dry seasons are to be expected. So are immaculate fall days when light and color play in the treetops and vivid springs dappled with azalea and honeysuckle and dogwoods. Around here, each season lasts just long enough to celebrate its company and wish it well as the next arrives.
Occasionally, these seasons get a little deranged. It’s not uncommon to hear someone utter, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a couple days.” It’s not a joke. Hours ago it was below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a matter of days will be approaching 70. Our biggest snow was in March and our latest in April, when any other given year, people are packing their cars for lake homes and gulf beaches. This is why I do not put away a summer or winter wardrobe for any length of time.
Severe weather is a test we often pass. April of 2011 was a nightmare of one kind – we were warned, too few heeded, and we saw unforgettable devastation. This week was another kind of nightmare – less warning, more panic, and thankfully, for many, a much better resolution.
No doubt, more of us could winterize our vehicles, have chains in our trunks, and keep emergency supplies of medications. Of course, improvements can be made in our readiness. All of that comes when teacher Experience shares this kind of lesson. But also holding class was Reminder, proving over and over that people are caring for one another.
Every neighbor who picked up a child from school on behalf of a worried parent, every teacher that led a “lock-in,” every resident who opened their home to a friend, coworker, or stranger, and every first responder, road warrior, and media guru who worked tirelessly – you all reminded the citizens of this area that we have enough when we consider others.
My personal journey these last few days has been rather uneventful. I was able to shelter in place and stay off the roads for 50 hours. I was so glad to finally arrive at home, but I really wanted for nothing. I’m most grateful to UAB Commons, an unnamed Jimmy John’s delivery guy, Lindsey at Jim N Nicks, and the whole crew at Al’s for keeping me (among many others) fed while somewhat sequestered. From my workplace I watched – out the window and online – the city erupt with helpfulness.
The act of community is more beautiful that any 72-degree and sunny forecast, spring or fall. People providing for one another is one of the many ways I see God’s hand at work in toughness or tragedy. You can question and doubt all you want. I certainly understand that many will, and will again, because if a sovereign God would allow a storm like this, why wouldn’t he just stop it. He can handle your questions, so ask them. But let me offer you this perspective: it may not feel like rescue when you are hiking ten miles in the snow and ice to get home, but it is redemption. We can give our good God glory when one of his children aids another out of the love He has first given us.
So, keep giving and considering others. Keep opening your doors. Remain patient and kind. Avoid blame, bitterness, and resentment. Give hugs and warmth in the days to come for this is a Magic City where we heal in ways beyond what we can imagine.
birmingham 1/28/14 afternoon, looking north from 11th ave south
headed south on a sanded and salted us hwy 31 at brookwood hospital
a welcome sight, the door home
uab commons at breakfast, serving students, faculty, and staff
an apropos poem, from peace like a river by leif enger
birmingham 1/29/14 morning, looking north from 11th ave south
birmingham 1/28/14 night, looking north from 11th ave south
my workplace, and shelter for 50 hours
reunited with the snow boots i did not have at work