Monday, April 22, 2013


Granddaddy and “My Old Man” survived the Waco Tornado of May 11, 1953. When it struck they were within their business, half a block from the site of its most major damage. About ten minutes earlier they had shot a game of pool and had a beer on the second floor of that same building a half block away. Had they not left they would have been casualty statistics in the event that left 114 citizens dead. They didn’t talk about it much, but it must have been long a part of their psyche. I was 5 ½ years old and at home at the time… North Waco was not damaged. My memories of the event are very limited.

The daughter was (and still is) a resident of New Orleans when Katrina hit. She had evacuated The City before the storm because she had to travel for work that Monday and her boss was afraid Louis Armstrong Airport might be closed down. I accompanied her back to her apartment as soon as she was able to enter The City and fortunately her residence was undamaged. The floodwaters only reached her steps. As we entered from the West and were forced to leave before dark, we really didn’t see the extent of the damage. It was maybe a month after she finally returned that we visited and were able to witness the devastation. I can’t really describe the extent of it and in Her aftermath we don’t dwell on Katrina much these days though the Daughter’s car does still have a bumper sticker stating: “New Orleans, Proud to Swim Home.”

At about 7:55 pm last Wednesday the town of West, where we go at Christmas to buy Kolaches, where I long went to Nemecek’s Market for “West Specials”, where I personally knew several of its residents, where I competed at the West Rodeo back in the late 60’s, where I’ve attended Westfest and where we have some property only 8 miles +/- from its epicenter; a disastrous explosion at West Fertilizer occurred. The death toll seems to be steady at 14 and about 160 of the town’s 2600 residents sustained injury to some extent as a result of the blast. Am not really worried about our property, I’ll check up on it in the next few days. I’m probably about done discussing the event with friends and neighbors and in truth I anticipate this post to be my “Swan Song” in that regard. But… I do wonder why I’ve been so close to so much anguish.

Yesterday’s Sermon dealt with the Boston bombing, the West explosion and the Mid-West flooding and it’s hard to make sense out of everything that’s recently happened. In retrospect, I understand how the parents and grandparents must have felt following the Tornado and how the Daughter must have felt following Katrina while I ask myself: “Why have I been such a close witness to all these disasters?” Yet, and at the same time, I give thanks that their effects has been no closer. I would suppose there are hundreds of thousands of folks who have been as close to as many disasters as I and acknowledge being fortunate to not having to deal with greater loss as have so many others. My question becomes: “Why, what purpose is served?” Fr. Chuck quoted a Baylor student in that Sermon saying: “You don’t put a Jesus Band Aid on a gaping wound.” Somehow that makes some odd sort of connection with me. I once heard a very wise man say: “Questions and problems are easy to identify, it’s answers that are hard to come by.” Just trying to figure out how and why this time; maybe I should concentrate more on what is.

Peace and Grace, all y’all