Names Change Things

Somehow, everything around here seems so trivial today. I’m going through the motions…weeding the yard, preparing a roast for dinner tonight, piddling around, checking the weather, looking for updates…
I keep imagining a mother in a hospital bed, seriously injured, learning that her 13 month old child is dead. That her daughter is with her in the same hospital somewhere, also seriously injured. That the little one she carries inside of her still has a heartbeat…and that no one can find her 3-year-old son.
There is nothing I can do…but pray. I’m not near enough to go help with the search. I don’t even know these people. But my grandmother does and that makes it real.
Joplin is horrific. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories just as heart wrenching as this one right there in one smallish city. It’s overwhelming.
But this story is different to me. That missing little boy’s name is Ryan. His mother is Catherine. Kathleen is the girl, and Cole is the one who is gone. For good.
Names and faces make a difference.
Yesterday I spend quite a bit of the afternoon and evening sitting here at my computer watching the live stream of someone named Mike, I think, on Oklahoma’s Channel 4 storm coverage. We’ve watched a lot of weather information the last few days, but when they show the maps of Arkansas and Missouri I’m still so unfamiliar with names and distances that somehow it doesn’t mean much to me. Watching this yesterday was different. I knew those places. Those towns. Those road names and intersections. I watched as Mike showed a projection where the storm could go and ran his finger right over the top of my family and home…right between Seward and Waterloo. He didn’t know that it was my family he was possibly dooming…but it was someone’s family. And even if it didn’t take that path….it was someone’s home and family.
I didn’t worry for us. Whether or not that old Indian legend is true that a tornado never hits where two creeks meet, a tornado has never come within a mile of our place for the whole twenty years that we’ve lived there. That doesn’t make us immune, I know. And I also know it could happen anytime. I imagine most people hit by tornadoes probably don’t think it will hit them. Then again…I know a lot of people who go into their cellars instead of out onto the front porch like we do. So maybe that’s not so true.
I wanted more information, but I didn’t worry. I stayed on the phone with Tera for quite a bit of the time, giving them updates and listening to their updates…and wondering how in the world a tornado can stay on the ground for 50 miles, and how many people would be killed because of this, and why this year’s tornadoes are so much worse than ever I remember them before. I admit that I DID worry when I heard my brothers went out to see if they could get some pictures of the storm. But they stayed smart and safe.
And all the while, my mind returned to Joplin. What those people are going through. How much more devastating it is there, since it was so much more populated.
But what was that? Was he mentioning Edmond? Yes, he was. And Guthrie? Yes, again. Mike, that’s where my grandparents live. And right there on the map? Right where you’re pointing? That’s where our friends live, Mike.
But Mike isn’t in control. He’s just reporting. I am so thankful to know who is in control. I am glad to know that wherever little Ryan is…Jesus is holding him. But please, Lord…let him be found.
The barn where Anna works was torn apart. They have injured horses out there…three so injured they had to be put down. But the houses and families on the ranch are okay. Praiseful.
And now, the day after, there are pictures and stories and videos.
We’ve been seeing almost constant footage from Joplin over the past few days. I can’t wrap my mind around it.
Here’s a photo from Guthrie:
It’s striking to me because I sat there last month and watched my cousin play softball on her college team. I can name the field. I can say those are bleachers blown up against that fence thing behind home base.
But this:
This is incomprehensible to me. I can’t wrap my mind around it. I can’t fathom it. I can’t accept it. I can’t name it.
I watch in shocked wonder at the footage from Joplin.
I cry when I think of Catherine and Cole and Kathleen and Ryan. Especially Ryan.
Father, please let them find Ryan…