OK, I was going to write about vinegar (it really is pretty exciting!), but I’ll put that on the back burner for a little while because something pretty amazing happened this past week.
It’s funny how life works sometimes. Disasters seem to bring out the best in people. We’ve all heard this before, but I have never witnessed it on such a large scale as what happened last week.
We had a huge storm go through southwest Michigan with upwards of 75-mph winds and some of the worst lightning I have seen in a long time. You will remember last week I wrote about it flattening our sweet corn. Well, that was the least of the worries for us and a lot of other folks.
This storm cut a wide swath with our small town of Union City being one of many in its path of wrath. Numerous trees and limbs were down everywhere, so naturally there were many without power. This would have been bad anytime, but being a holiday week many were making travel plans or planned on family and friends coming in for the holiday.
As you know by now, one of the things we enjoy the most is spending time in our yard and garden. The morning after the storm when we surveyed the damage we kept asking, “Why, why do we even try to have something nice and work so hard at it?”
There wasn’t a spot in our 3-acre yard that was untouched. Limbs and debris were everywhere, huge limbs were down, there was a hole in the garage roof and one of the blue spruce that we planted when we first bought the place 25 years ago was uprooted. We were heartsick, but there was nothing we could do at the time. We couldn’t get the car out of the garage until the huge limb was moved so Jim took me to work.
We soon found out there were many worse off than us. Everywhere in town trees and electrical wires were down, roads were blocked and nearly everyone was without power. Miraculously, no one was hurt.
Then something very special happened that would only occur in small-town America. When I went to work that day I saw neighbors helping each other with cleanup. They were pitching in together to get limbs off roofs, to make sure gaping holes in houses were temporarily patched until permanent repairs could be made, and anyone who had a generator who miraculously had power was sharing with those who didn’t.
Many family and friends offered to help us with cleanup even before they had their own places put back together. Ron, Mark and Monica Hacker pulled in with their large equipment and helped us clean up, as they did with their other landlords. Three hours later our yard looked like a yard again. We could have never tackled the big stuff on our own. The next day, Ron Scruggs, a friend from Indiana, who was up for the Hackers' annual July 4 picnic, helped us on the tail-end of the cleanup. Our neighbor Penni has a new generator that has never been used. She graciously shared it with our son and his family who live about 8 miles away so they could have power.
It doesn’t get any better than this. I don’t know how many times I have seen on the news how people rise to the occasion to help when disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes strike. Compared to destruction like that, this storm was peanuts, but it still brought out the best in people.
Like most small-town America, most everyone knows everyone, which means they also know what goes on in each other’s lives. In town, neighbors who were helping each other through the storm were the same ones who were bickering a few weeks earlier either about leaves that had blown across the street on their yard, or the neighbor’s dog barking, or too loud of music, or a number of other things. But, when it really counted, they were there for each other.
This is just a connection that people who live in the city don’t have. Many don’t even know their neighbors. I really feel sorry for them for not having this connection that comes from small-town living. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
This is just our story, so many others have similar ones to tell of acts of kindness and cooperation. Human nature being what it is, I’m sure that next week we will all be back to complaining about someone or something, but it is good to know that when it is needed most, people pull together.
Back to our question of why do we work so hard when it can all be torn down in a few minutes. Well, it certainly would make life easier if we knew in advance when God was going to do His pruning in a big way. But then, if we knew ahead of time, it may rob us of some of the best examples of human kindness. Sometimes it takes a little destruction to really see who God’s angels are.