By Father Casey Shobe
Last weekend was certainly a study of contrasts, wasn’t it? On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we shared the joy of our annual Ingathering celebration with a full church, beautiful music, and the holy experience of everyone walking up to the altar to present their pledges and symbols of commitment. Then we spilled outside for a wonderful Fig Fest under glorious, warm sunshine. I couldn’t begin to count the smiles and happy faces, nor can I remember how many conversations I shared with people talking about how grateful they are for their lives and for our church. When I left our campus mid-afternoon, I was basking in the glow of all that friendship and joy, not to mention the hope about which I preached earlier that morning.
But Sunday certainly didn’t end like it began, and the sunshine that had warmed our bodies gave way to a terrifying supercell that spun out ten tornadoes. You’ve no doubt seen pictures of the devastation, which is staggering to behold. Several parishioners were directly hit by tornadoes, and they are even now cleaning up wrecked homes and destroyed offices. Others live on streets or in neighborhoods that were badly damaged, and still lack power or even open roads. Amazingly, the damage has been limited to property, and no lives were lost. I marvel at this, given just how suddenly and ferociously the storms appeared. Heck, more than a few members of our church were at the Cowboy game, or watching it on television, totally oblivious to the storm bearing down on the city.
Yes, it was a schizophrenic day, but ultimately, our response to the events of the morning and evening can be the same: gratitude. Gratitude for all we still have, and gratitude that, despite the storm, everyone who went to bed on Sunday night saw the sun rise on Monday morning. I’ve been particularly inspired by the gratitude of those most heavily affected by the storm. They who lost the most have been the most vocal in their thankfulness for life and the confidence that they will recover. I hope you’ll join your prayers to theirs, in gratitude, and for the strength to endure the hard road ahead.
In the past two days, Mother Rebecca and a team of volunteers have reached out to everyone we think lives in the path of the storms to see if there are ways we can help. If you were not reached, or are struggling in the aftermath, I hope you’ll reach out to the church. We did our best with a map and our database, but it’s possible we missed someone.
If you are safe and unaffected, but desire to help those who were, I encourage you to consider one of these opportunities:
- check the City of Richardson’s recommendations
- the United Way has compiled an excellent list of links and resources
- Monetary donations are being accepted by the Dallas Education Foundation at DallasISDTornadoReliefFund. The District is in the process of doing a needs assessment, understanding what insurance will cover and understanding the gaps. The DEF will hold funds until Dallas ISD presents a plan with how the monies will be used.
- Finally, the clergy at Transfiguration will be deploying our discretionary funds in coming weeks to assist those who have lost housing or have other basic, urgent needs. You can consider donating to these funds.
May God bring order and goodness out of the chaos of the storm, protect the vulnerable, calm our troubled hearts, and strengthen us for the days ahead.
See you this weekend.
About Father Casey
Casey became the fourth rector of Transfiguration in October 2014 after having served churches in Rhode Island and Houston. He is married to Melody Shobe, also an Episcopal priest, and they have two daughters, Isabelle and Adelaide. Casey grew up in Temple, Texas, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. His Master of Divinity was earned at Virginia Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry at the School of Theology at the University of the South (Sewanee). He loves playing golf, road cycling, hiking, brewing beer, and working in his yard. You can contact Father Casey by email.
Fig Fest photo courtesy of Katy Spicer. Used with permission.
Cover photo from NBC 5 News.