You see the writing.
The message is clear. Keep out.
Do you stay away?
Messy circumstances can often keep us distant from people who need help. They keep us away from giving a blessing. They keep us away from receiving a blessing.
We were working in this neighborhood in Panama City after Hurricane Michael whipped through. The best spot to set up our trailer and equipment? Across from the graffitied house.
We saw no one there the first day.
But around lunchtime the second day, the owner of the house wandered over. He began talking.
He told us his story. He and his family had decided to stay through Hurricane Michael. At least until early that Wednesday morning, October 11.
It was 5:30 a.m. His phone rang. It was a trusted friend who was in the know.
The message was brief: Tell your family to leave town. Now!
He was wide awake. He immediately called his grown daughter. Get the grandchild out of bed and go! Go west! Go west! She did. He was glad.
He stayed behind. And experienced the worst hurricane of his life.
His first impulse afterwards was to guard the belongings in this house. At all costs.
He told our volunteers to go in, find something they need. Inside was a collection of goods he once sold.
But now he wanted to give it away.
The keep-out house was inviting us in.
When we judge others by their outside signs, by their looks, by their outer layers, we can miss their deeper gifts.
But if we can just show up, be available, and listen, we’ll discover this: There’s enough of God to go around. For everyone.
* * *
Read more Hurricane Michael stories:
- No Dead End Here
Charles was growing despondent. His house was at the very end of the dead end street.
- Get Closer – Hurricane Michael Aftermath
Sometimes you have to get close. Panama City is now more than a vacation spot.
- 5 Links, Books, and Things I Love – December 2018
- When the Bad Thing Does NOT Happen