To the Point for 7/14/05


MOTHER NATURE SOMETIMES throws a wrench into people’s lives that they don’t expect, and when it happens, I am always reminded of the true power that nature holds over our lives.

In the middle of June I had the opportunity to travel to Panama City Beach, Florida with a group of students and adults to attend a Christian camp. It was held right on the beach, and we had a wonderful time playing sand volleyball and hanging out in the ocean.

This week I’ve kept track of Hurricane Dennis as it hit land very close to where we were, and I am amazed at some of the images that I have seen.

People move to places like Florida for the sunshine and warm weather. What they don’t expect are 100-mile per hour winds and torrential rains that wash away everything.

At Navarre Beach, each of Panama City, three families returned home to find that their beachfront homes were gone.

Not just knocked down. Not just damaged. Completely gone. The ocean waves had literally carried the homes out into the sea.

While Panama City was beautiful three weeks ago, we could still see remnants of the cleanup from the series of hurricanes that came through there just last year.

Now they begin to clean up again.

One minute you see all of nature’s beauty; the next you see all of nature’s fury.

But as our hearts go out to the citizens of Florida, we are also reminded that there is no “perfect place” to live — so you just have to find what suits you best and plant firm roots.

Here, we have tornadoes from time to time; and there is also the occasional Ohio River flood that comes up and brings life to a standstill. Winter also brings a blizzard every so many years; but we all manage to survive and move ahead.

Tropical regions have hurricanes. People in the Midwest deal with dust storms and tornadoes; and people in Los Angeles and along the California coastline wake up to the tremors of earthquakes every now and then.

Head further north, and residents of the Great Northwest got to experience Mount St. Helen’s eruption a few years back.

Along the northern border, from South Dakota to Minnesota to upstate New York deal with large amounts of snow.

And the folks along the Mississippi and other major rivers share our experiences with flooding.

I hear it even rains in Hawaii — but not for long.

It’s amazing how nature balances itself out. The problems caused by Hurricane Dennis in Florida have resulted in much-needed rain here and in other agricultural areas that have badly needed rain for crops.

As much as I hate the hurricane damage, I am very thankful for the rain it has brought here.

The devastation of volcanic eruptions and forest fires gives way to new growth in forests.

All around us we see nature hit, recoil, and then begin again. While we fear the shock of nature’s fury, we begin to see how over and over again our world is shaped by forces that we can neither control or understand.

Tsunamis in Asia and drought in Africa make very little sense to us here; but those horrible situations have given those of us who have been blessed with much the opportunity to share just a little with those who have nothing.

Perhaps what shapes our society the most is not what natural disaster strikes us; but instead how we react to those situations on a human level.