I had just arrived at my office after a truly Spirit filled Sunday morning with the good folks of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. I was on the phone with our Missioner for Mission, Tim Hodapp, when the sirens started blaring.
“Bishop, are you standing in your office? Ok, you need to move to the center of the building!” The next question Tim asked was where Staci and the boys were. “Somewhere in North Minneapolis with their Breck Marimba group,” I replied. “You may want to check on them,” he quickly suggested. Being a Minnesotan and a veteran of tornadoes, Tim knew the potential severity of the situation.
I called Staci. “We’re okay. We’re in the basement of a large brick building and the band is actually set up down here.” With that bit of good news, and the ending of the sirens, I decided to see if I could make my way to my family. Moments later, after being passed by a platoon of emergency vehicles, I witnessed the extreme damage that had taken place.
In short order neighbors from near and far began to pitch in. Our own local congregations and Episcopal Community Services immediately stepped up to the plate to assist in any way they could.
On Monday, I found myself in North Carolina at the College for Bishops. In attendance with me was the Bishop from Missouri. News was just starting to come in on how devastating the tornadoes had been in Joplin. It was clear to everyone that he needed to go home.
Many of the bishops knew first hand the realities of a disaster. Tornadoes, hurricanes, wild fires, flooding – all had been experienced. Each bishop shared the initial feeling of being overwhelmed, and then filled with gratitude for the amazing response. But bewilderment set in when almost as quickly the help left and the weariness of how long recovery takes became apparent. And yet, through it all, their faith was strengthened.
Whether it is a natural disaster or man made, or just the challenges that come in life, Jesus calls us to companionship both with him and each other – for the short term and the long haul.