August 29, 2017

Harvey and Community

I’m writing this as my family and I are in the midst of Tropical Storm (formerly Hurricane) Harvey.

My heart goes out to so many victims of Harvey – to those dear souls who have lost their life, and to those who lost their homes and cars, or years’ worth of memories and precious possessions. Hardship and suffering tend to bring out the worst in people – the occasional looting in flooded neighborhoods, traffic nightmares, and fist fights in long gas station lines are, sadly, all too real.

But hardship and suffering also bring out the best in people!

Already, just in the days following Harvey, thousands of people have opened their hearts, their homes, and their wallets to help their fellow human beings through this difficult time.

And I have been amazed by what I’ve seen in my community. In my own neighborhood, we’ve helped each other move outside furniture, clear sewer drains, lend portable air-conditioners, and ensure that those who need help can get it. Our neighborhood page is filled with people offering assistance of any kind.

In my parish, folks have called each other to make sure everyone is ok, and to see if there is anything they can do to help. We can’t get to our church building, so we’re among the dozens of Houston churches I’ve seen hosting prayer and worship gatherings online in some form.

Here at home, the constant ping of my wife’s phone is a community of teachers and administration checking in on one another, the status of their homes, and sending up prayer on behalf of one another.

This is very likely the worst storm that Houston has ever faced. But the joy, courage, and selfless spirit of the community is shining through the dark clouds.

Hurricanes and tropical storms will happen again. Some of us might try to prepare better by installing generators and acquiring emergency gas stoves. I hope that we also remember that often what makes it possible for all of us to make it through the difficulties that extreme weather brings is the community that surrounds us.

This is why we build community around us. This is why we invest our time, energy, hearts, and souls – and our finances – into community. It is wonderful to have a community to celebrate with – such as birthdays or Christmas. But perhaps It is even more wonderful to have the support of the community when we suffer the loss of a loved one or go through a trying situation.

How do you work to build community where you live, work, or play?

To help those who have been impacted by Harvey, please follow the links below.

  1. Episcopal Relief and Development, which has a special "Hurricane Harvey" fund option:
  2. American Red Cross, which likewise has a designated Harvey fund: