Small glimmers of hope in tornado-weary Oklahoma

As of June 4, the death toll from the May 31 tornadoes that blasted the Oklahoma City area had risen to 18. Add to this the 24 lives that were lost 11 days earlier in the massive EF5 twister that hit the capital city suburb of Moore — not to mention the more than $3 billion worth of destruction — and our hearts break for the people of Oklahoma.

We pray for all who are now trying to create, what Father Rick Stansberry, pastor of Christ the King Church in Oklahoma City, called, “a new normal.” After touring the area mauled by the May 20 mile-wide tornado that plowed through neighborhoods and schools, Father Stansberry wrote in a letter to his parishioners that he was “taken aback.”

“I walked through what was once a neighborhood and saw so many people who were going through their homes to salvage what they could,” he wrote. “Television can’t fully capture the destruction.”

It seems like Mother Nature is giving us a lot of reasons these days to be “taken aback.” The Oklahoma tornadoes, flooding in Missouri, wildfires in California, Hurricane Sandy — and these are just on the domestic side of things.

We don’t know why the destruction continues. But, with hope and trust in the Lord, we continue to pray, we offer whatever financial support possible, and we look for glimmers of hope amid the wreckage.

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Like when Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri delivered a truckload of supplies to Oklahoma valued at more than $50,000. According to a release from the organization, the donations included a small boy’s “security stuffed animal,” which he offered to affected children in the Sooner State so they would feel safe.

Or when a young mother donated baby supplies, saying she didn’t know what she would do if she didn’t have diapers and formula for her child. Or when a group of co-workers banded together to shop for items on families’ “most-needed” lists.

We glimpse hope when members of the Knights of Columbus Council 9901, based at St. Andrew Church in Moore, visited affected homes to assess damages. And when they facilitated communication and relief efforts between the parish and the people who needed help.

And we read hope in the words of Lindsey Minerva, a photojournalist for World Vision, who blogged June 3 that even amid all the destruction in Moore, she left with “a renewed sense of humanity”:

“I sat with people in the ruins of their homes. The word I heard over and over again was grateful — grateful to be alive, grateful that everyone in their family was OK, grateful for the help that had come through strangers and friends.”

Through the example of these resilient people and those who aid them, we’re reminded that it’s in times of brokenness when faith and charity really shine. And we have hope that our God, who knows what it is to be broken, is with us through it all.