I was enjoying LetterMo, sending mail out every day, and waiting for letters to come in (which they finally did, many thanks -- and I'll be responding as soon as I can), and then this happens:
That's my church. In ruins. Hit directly by a tornado yesterday evening. The tornado also passed to the north of my house, several miles away from the scene above, but thankfully nothing was damaged although it certainly scared us.
The damage to the church hit us hard, of course, because we have been members there for close to 20 years. But it hit us especially hard for two other reasons.
A few years ago the church acquired a magnificent pipe organ from another church in town that was moving to a new campus and not taking the organ with them. It was a scary and expensive thing to acquire and install this organ, but we did it because we felt it was the right thing to do. And since I am the church organist, I was completely involved in the project, and I have since enjoyed playing the instrument every Sunday. That's over for now. The organ is largely salvageable, it appears, so its thousands of pipes will be put in storage for safekeeping and will (hopefully) be reinstalled in an even more beautiful sanctuary one day.
The other reason my heart is tight in my chest right now is this: the church was to be the site of my daughter's wedding this summer. We have been planning this wedding for the past year, and she grew up in this church. It's a totally selfish thing to be upset over something so trivial in the big scheme of things, I suppose, but to see my little girl's hopes for a wedding in our beautiful church be dashed in a moment by a tornado's fury is really hard for this daddy. (I hope that sentence makes even the remotest amount of sense, because I don't know how to fix it and don't have the heart right now.)
Life will go on, and buildings will be rebuilt, and messes will be cleaned up. Witness our recovery from Hurricane Katrina years ago, which at the time seemed like the end of the world. But in the meantime, I think the coming days and weeks will be hard. There are lots of people all over the city with damaged houses tonight (and the rain is pouring down like crazy), and the damage on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi (right across the highway from my church) was even more horrendous. I'm ready to get to the part where yesterday and today are unpleasant but distant memories.