I am not going to sit here and tell you everything is okay. Simply put, its not. Not even close.
My apartment may be okay. My parents’ house might be okay. I have friends’ that have lost much. I have friends’ that have lost everything. Three days later, and millions of people are still without electricity. Never before have I ever seen grocery stores so empty. No milk, no eggs, no bread, limited cereals. Shelves look barren. Huge trees were completely uprooted and ripped from the ground. The Autumn leaves cover the ground, no longer giving the beautiful fall glow that the North loves so dearly. The ocean did not halt at the edge of neighborhoods. Instead it not only intruded rushing down the streets of communities, but it decided to take buildings, cars, and beauty with it. Houses full of water, and sand are just a glimpse of the damage. Most of the flood waters and high tides receded however leaving feet of sand in some places. The closer you get to where the heavy damage is done, it looks ghostly. Well, Happy Halloween I guess. The closer you get to where disaster is evident, the more you realize the heartbreaking reality… New Jersey is a mess. NYC is terrible too. With massive flooding still in effect, the subways, tunnels, and basically everything on Lower Manhattan and other nearby areas of NY are closed off for an undetermined time. Places you would never think of such devastation are not only leveled or washed away, but greatly affect the economy of this region. This is all more than just a mess.
For anyone that doesn’t know or realize, New Jersey thrives largely because of our shoreline. Our beach communities, boardwalks, theme parks, piers are heartbeat of Jersey. It is what we love. Whether you are a Phillies/Eagles fan or Yankees/Giants fan, Jersey can agree that we love our beaches. We love our boardwalks. Anyone that has lived here long enough has most likely had some amazing memories down the shore. I know I have. Between youth group beach days in the summer to me taking my youth group there letting many of them experience OC for the first time. Or friends and I going down to celebrate the fact that we were on college summer break. Or the memories I have with my best friend walking the board walk, going to the theme park, or watching the fireworks on Fourth of July. More recently I have gone to LBI for winter retreats at a place that is now devastated. One of my absolute favorite memories down the shore was alone, when I used to drive there early in the morning in the winter when it was still dark, to park and make to the beautiful, quiet beach and watch the sunrise snuggled up in a blanket with coffee. I cannot tell you the beauty of those breathtaking sunrises I have experienced there.
Ask anyone from this area, they have memories down the shore. Hurricane Sandy did a great job with destroying many of those places. She did a great job with ruining one of the largest parts of our economy. She especially did a great job with causing such extensive damage with flooding to cease public transportation limiting the commute for probably thousands of people to and from NYC. What Hurricane Sandy did not do is destroy us. We are still. Though many of that which we loved is destroyed and gone, we are alive. What has been lost will be a memory and something new will be rebuilt.
We need to move forward and push through the next few months, because this will difficult for some more than others. Church, I urge you to have compassion during this time. Help your neighbor, your community, your enemy even. This is the time for the Church- those that believe and claim to live for God- to really LIVE OUT LOVE. We as Christians know this, that no matter what comes our way, we have a God that can be our strength and bring us through any tragedy or situation. This is an incredible opportunity for our communities and State to see a love that goes beyond barrier, race, religion, and yes, even favorite sports team [hah!]. This is a chance at living out what the Gospel commissioned us to do in the first place. Not just this week or next week or even next month. This will be a long process. Continue to push forward and live out love no matter what. People, especially those with great loss, need hope, compassion and love. Don’t keep that from anyone. The soul of New Jersey is the shore, and though it is broken, along with much more, we as Christians have something to offer those that are devastated, something that cannot be destroyed in any storm or struggle: His Love.
I encourage you all, through this difficultly, see God working, in even the smallest of ways.