Prior to and during the fanfare surrounding Great Britain’s Royal Wedding, we here in the States saw the total devastation experienced by the citizens of Alabama and others whose lives and livelihoods were being destroyed by tornadoes. Flood warnings continued yesterday for areas all along the Ohio, Wabash and White rivers. Levees where the Mississippi River runs through Mississippi and Louisiana en route to the Gulf of Mexico were also threatened, and, though what is to come can not be predicted, it is, most assuredly, feared.
Seeing the photos of entire towns flattened, the faces of those who lost all their earthly possessions – to say nothing of those unable to find loved ones or having to bury those they found – is almost too much to fathom.
In an article released by CNN’s reporter, Mark Levine, I was particularly struck by his examination of hurricanes throughout the ages and a reference made to what he believes poet John Keats might have called: “A partner in your sorrow’s miseries.”
Levine reported – much to my ignorance, I admit – that around 2,000 tornadoes occur between the Rockies and the Appalachians each year. “Tornadoes terrorized early American colonists and settlers on the western frontiers in much the same manner they send people scurrying for cover in their basements today. Despite our best efforts to heed warnings and seek protection,” he concludes that “tornadoes offer unnerving evidence of the limits of our vigilance.”
In his lengthy coverage of the facts, his most profound observation is that: “For those who suffer the effects of disaster, nothing good can come from the experience. For the rest of us, disaster is a valuable, potentially humanizing reminder of the vulnerable ground on which our dreams of stable lives are built.”
Indeed! I doubt that there will be any houses of worship this weekend in which there will not be prayers offered for the victims and references made to that very vulnerable ground.
Ironically, at the same time, millions of television watchers were glued to their sets, watching the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Princess Catherine in London – truly a fairy tale-type theatrical occurrence.
Whatever one thinks of the money spent on such an extraordinarily lavish wedding, the truth is that tourism and money spent by all the spectators do help the British economy while lifting the spirits of so many.
In the end, I suppose it is ironic that in the face of such destruction by natural causes, we find ourselves buoyed by the spectacle of a royal wedding. Witness the cheering crowds eager to share in a joyous event at a time when so much of the world is unstable and in chaos.
If only we could believe as did Anne Frank – the innocent, precocious, and terribly young victim of the Holocaust – who expressed so eloquently in her diary: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of Nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Oh, that that were true! Yet, still, we must marvel at the fact that in some places we do have springtime sun. Days with new growth and new-found hope. Days when occasional life-like fairy tales do still exist, allowing us dreams of our own we might not otherwise dream in these difficult and extraordinarily challenging times.
May more of us have reasons to dream!
Linda Appleman Shapiro