I guess there is no shortage of ways that bad things can happen to people. First of all, there are the seemingly countless things that humans can inflict on one another; I don’t want to even list examples. Then there are our own bad choices that can set our lives on fire. Add to that the plethora of potential natural disasters and one begins to get the idea that our existence in this world is subject to alteration at any given time.
I’d have to say that having your home swallowed by a sinkhole would not a desired experience. Neither is having it flattened by a tornado. But I think flood damage carries a particular sort of torture.
There is the surprise of the collected torrent of seven inches of rain in two hours that comes sweeping down the natural drainage areas and pushing in through broken windows and swirling through every possible opening. Even before that, though, there is that disgusting eruption of backed up sewage forced outward and upward by massive hydraulic pressure.
Even “clean” water ruins things. Books, photographs, linens, carpets, drywall, insulation, et cetera, ad infinitum. Memories, souvenirs, necessities and niceties are soiled and soured by the mix of sand and silt, mud and muck. Add the element of back-flushed sewage and you get a very special blend of something that sends you retching and makes even the sight of once-treasured keepsakes repulsive and afflictive.
Fire and tornado, wind and storm change the forms of things for which we have loved and labored. They are ripped away from us, turned to ash and dust. Floods, too, sometimes take things away. Lawn furniture, trampolines, toys, even entire houses may be swept away. But flooding also ruins the things that are left behind, a special sort of torture as we are forced to let go, to throw into the trash the items once treasured.
Even for those most attuned to the reality that nothing of this world can forever endure, there is loss and pain in all these ways of suffering life in a fallen world. But even in such a world we see and hear of the ageless acts of caring by others, the unbidden coming of strangers to endure with others the stench and stink, to shovel out the muck and help haul out the repulsive debris.
In the offering of ourselves to one another in such humility and determination in the aftermath of life’s cutting catastrophes, we show that though we are formed from dust, there is yet something divine in us. We are more than mud and made to rise above the swirl and stench of this world’s calamities. In the darkest of this world’s afflictions, there is yet Light that lives within us.