This week I’m returning to my UUCC work after a much-appreciated 3-week break. Thank you to the staff, Board of Trustees, worship teams, Karuna caregivers, and all who made it possible for me to take this vacation. I’m returning feeling more rested and refueled for the work ahead.
A highlight of this vacation was the few days that Graham (my spouse) and I spent on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, enjoying relaxation and (appropriately) warm weather for a few days in early January. How fortunate we are to be able to enjoy such an excursion.
But also, we were there the week of January 5, during which time the island experienced several intense earthquakes. We suffered no harm or damage, and we were staying in a place that had more than adequate resources to keep us fed and secure. (And yet still the tremor on Tuesday, January 7, woke and frightened us at 4:30am. It’s amazing how the body instinctively knows that the ground is not supposed to move like that!)
The impact on us was minimal and entirely unimportant. For two days, we had no hot water in our private space. There was a wait at the gas station when we went to refill the tank in the rental car. I was nervous about whether another quake would happen while we were still there and cause us direct harm or prevent us from getting home to our children on schedule.
AND . . . I had no responsibility for dealing with actual fallout. I wasn’t worried about long–term impact on my livelihood or health. I got to leave and return home to my own comforts.
We were insulated from the devastation, and I had the luxury of wondering and observing how the local residents were handling things. I watched as several people cooperated to direct traffic and organize the chaos at the gas station. I heard stories from restaurant staff about how, after surviving Hurricane Maria, they had equipped their homes for just such a situation as they’re experiencing now. And I heard about their distrust in elected leadership and infrastructure to do anything truly helpful.
I know I didn’t see the worst of it—I had no direct exposure to those on the margins and with the fewest resources. Still, I observed an admirable and beautiful kind of determination and resilience in the face of very real challenge.
Their lives make me want to live with even more beauty and determination and resilience in mine.
Incidentally, while I was composing this post, a ministerial colleague shared the following video, which happens to be a piece performed by Taína Asili, a Puerto Rican artist whose newest album is titled Resiliencia. I commend the video to you:
May 2020 be a year characterized by resilience . . . for our congregation, for our nation, for our Earth, for ourselves.