The Not-Normal Experience

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Hard to believe we are two weeks out from the frantic days when we were watching the Weather Channel, battening down the hatches, and living out The Clash classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” After days of fearful anticipation, a night of forceful wind and rain, a day of evaluating damage, gas-challenged return trips, and lots of clean-up, we are collectively longing for a return to routine. Ready for the shelves to be restocked so our freezers can be refilled. Anxious for a day not marked by anxiousness. In a word; normal.

As I reckoned Sunday, there are certain parts of the not-normal experience that I am not sure I want to go back to. I suspect, at one level or another, we likely will. Hopefully later than sooner. For some of what was not normal was not bad. In fact, it was a welcome gift, proper expressions of life, and relationships that only seem to be summoned by one of life’s wake-up calls. Irma was indeed one of those. My prayer is that once we find our way to peaceful rest, we can stay awake to the not-normal parts of this journey worth worth the wander.

We do not normally live with such a keen understanding of our vulnerability and powerlessness in the face of life’s storms. Even the most dependably pious among us rarely pray with such fervor, truly in touch with our dependence on the Almighty in each moment. Scriptures and hymns of protection and presence sturdied our souls. Rarely do we stand in front of our belongings and prioritize – this matters more than this, while that doesn’t really matter at all. We do not wake up on a Monday wondering how all our friends and family are making out. When we open the door to our house, we take for granted the condition of all things inside, but on that Monday we gave praise for the things that remained. Once secured, our attention turned to those around us in need of help. Maybe it was the neighbor not able to clear the brush from her yard. The friends with no power. Folks with limited food. And soon enough there was compassion for the folks down the road who bore the brunt of the winds once aimed at us. We thanked the folks here to help and helped where we could. And with a few frustrated exceptions, folks were nicer than I can recall. Soul mate or stranger, the first question was “How did you fare?” The next was “What do you need?” And we meant it. We asked for what was needed without hesitation. And we responded to requests just as quickly. Grateful and gracious have been the stations from which we have operated for days. Good places to be, no matter what pushed us there.

We have our finer moments in fairer times, but we must admit, we are not normally so in-tune to our better selves. Would that we were. And we can, if on our way back to a more common, predicable and routine way of life, we resist the urge to slide back to normal. There are parts of these days we want to put behind us as far and as quickly as we can. But other aberrations are worth holding on to. Some abnormal behaviors I’d like to see everyday. My hunch is, you do too.