Sunday, May 9, 2010

Washed By The Water

Photo by Larry McCormack/The Tennessean

I have spent the week with my good friends -- picking up and throwing away large, soggy sections of their lives. Their life, like many in the Nashville area, was swept into the river physically, mentally and emotionally. The recent flood is the largest (costliest) non-hurricane natural disaster in U.S. history and for many will be a game changer...I know for me it is a game changer. I have spent countless days on job sites during the demolition phase. I usually find it fun to help tear out a cabinet or two and maybe pull down a piece of drywall here and there; this, however, felt much, much different. The strange thing is that for the first couple of days their neighborhood was full of homeowners and volunteers working to clean up the mess ... all doing so in almost total silence. Lots of activity and very little conversation. Just neighbor caring for neighbor, working, thinking and praying.

I have been witness this week to the best of my fair city, Nashville. We didn't cry foul, we didn't wait for the government to come to our rescue...we rescued ourselves the old fashioned way -- neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend and even total strangers, hand in hand. The national media gave us 15 minutes for what will most likely take years to clean up and will forever change the tempo in Music City. There wasn't any looting, there wasn't any violence, and the loss of life, though tragic, was small compared to other disasters. Maybe our story of waiting for the waters to go down and being a community that cares for its own and is willing to begin the healing from within just isn't sexy enough. I'm proud of my city, our churches, organizations and people for the determination to pick up the pieces and do it with neighborly kindness and dignity.

I don't want this post to sound sappy and sweet. It was hard work that took its toll on us in every way possible but we leaned in and realized that stuff is just that, stuff. This might sound funny coming from a man who makes his living helping people with their stuff; I even help people get more stuff. What I will take away from this is that I need to spend more time reaching for and enjoying people. People are what matter. Of course, as a musician this renewing thought brings to mind lyrics to a Needtobreathe song:

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water