Column: The help came stormin’ in

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

One summer evening, a violent thunderstorm erupted. A mother tucked her small boy into bed with reassurances that all would be OK.

She was about to turn off the light in the room when the little guy, with fear in his voice, said, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?”

The mom smiled and gave the boy a comforting hug. “I can’t, sweetheart,” she replied. “I have to sleep with your daddy.”

As she left the room, Mom heard her sweet child mutter, “The big sissy.”

That’s a funny joke, but the storms that we’ve witnessed here in the Heartland over the past couple of weeks are no laughing matter. The loss of life, especially of the children, is heartbreaking. The destruction of homes and businesses in a matter of minutes is almost impossible to imagine.

Even here in the archdiocese, two communities — Marysville and Corning — were hit by tornadoes. Thankfully, there were no fatalities, but the destruction of property was significant.

But that’s not the only part of the story. Despite the devastation, there was laughter, hope and help. Please take time to read the moving stories on pages 4-6 of this issue about how we in the nation’s breadbasket deal with nature’s fury.

We respond with a fury all our own: an outpouring of help in every way imaginable.

I teared up a couple of times in reading these stories. There’s the scene of the local grocery store telling victims of the tornado to take what was needed, without cost.

Or the people waiting in line at that same store, offering their debit cards to offset any expenses of the affected families. The parish Altar Society made sure that there was plenty of nourishing food for both victims and volunteers. Members of the community rushed to secure the damaged home of neighbors who were on vacation when the twister hit. This is Christian love and service in action. It shows the absolute best that we can be.

In pondering these storms, some random thoughts came to mind:

1. Respect Mother Nature. Sometimes we get complacent when weather watches or warnings are issued. Be prepared. Be alert. Have a plan in place for getting to safety should the need arise.

2. Follow the good example of Holy Angels in Basehor (see the March 29 issue of The Leaven), which has a storm safety plan, should the parish need to take cover while at Mass.

3. Appreciate the ordinary things in life. Be grateful that you have a lawn to mow (even if it’s a lot more often this year), a house to paint or repair, clothes to launder, or a car to buy gas for or repair. Many no longer have these “ordinary” things.

4. Look at your “clutter” with new eyes. With people left with nothing but the clothes on their backs, view your possessions in a different light. Be thankful to have things to organize. Be even more committed to making sure that your excess and unused stuff gets into the hands of those who can most use them.

5. Strive each day to be a helpful person. Don’t wait for a destructive storm to spur you to reach out to people in need. Hold a door open for someone, lift a heavy grocery bag into someone’s trunk, park farther away from the door of a store so someone else can have a closer place, pick up litter from the sidewalk, share your umbrella, volunteer your time.

These rural churches have a lot to teach us about what it means to truly be a community, particularly in times of tragedy. I suspect, though, if you were to tell them how much you marvel at their teamwork and spirit, they’d reply in a practical, no-nonsense manner: Don’t spend your time admiring us.

Just go and do what we do.

Now that’s an attitude that should take the world by storm.

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