In 2005 I attended the CFR retreat as a participant. For the past three years I've served on the retreat team as a planner/fundraiser throughout the year and as a fishing instructor at the retreat. I wrote about the 2006 retreat here.
The William Stafford poem that Jules shared for Poetry Friday this week (and all the other Staffords in the comments) helped to crystalize what the CFR weekend taught me this year. This year I heard myself saying to a participant things I need to remember and practice in my own life:
All we really have is this moment right now. We can't change what's behind us and we can't know what's ahead of us, so we need to focus on this moment and do our best with it, enjoy it to its fullest. (Live in the moment, Mary Lee. Pay close attention to Right Now.)There are plenty of people in the world who will judge you based on your looks. The ones who matter are the ones who get to know you -- the ones who can see that you are so much more than your shell, who can see the beauty within you. (Don't judge, Mary Lee. Learn to look within for beauty. Be one of the ones who matter.)
When I got home from the retreat, new challenges and learnings awaited me. Ike's winds were revving up to 60-80 mph, construction barrels were rolling across the road creating a live-action obstacle course, branches were down (and still falling) everywhere I looked, roads were closed by fallen trees, and there were no working traffic lights.
I pulled into the driveway at 4:00 pm, just as we lost electricity. We didn't get our power back until 1:30 am on Thursday. Across the street from us, and in many other parts of the city, they still don't have power. Within walking distance of my house, there is still a street closed because of a fallen tree. There were schools in the city and around the area that were closed for four days this week. In our district, we were out two days (one building for three).
Here's what I learned from Ike:
I missed being connected to the Internet and email, but I can definitely survive without it. Hot showers are much more important in the big picture.
Electricity isolates us as much as it connects us. Without electricity, we spent much more with our neighbor, sharing lunch from a COSI we found nearby that was miraculously open, sharing pans and thermoses of hot water (we have a gas stove), and commiserating during the clean-up. I haven't talked to her since the power came back on.If this much chaos was caused by half-power hurricane winds in a dry storm, I can now clearly imagine what a real hurricane is like. We had no rain (so no flooding and less damage because the trees were dry), and the weather cooled down to the 70's after the storm passed, leaving us with pleasant, rather than steamy, air. My heart goes out to anyone who has ever lived directly in a hurricane's path.
For one day, I lived in two worlds -- the one of chaos, deprivation and uncertainty at home, and the "normal" one at school. I now have a better appreciation for my students who navigate two worlds every day.
When you're focusing on where the next meal is coming from, it's hard to care about politics, the stock market, and the situation in Afghanistan.
It doesn't matter how many services and offers of help are available to those in need, when you are cut off from the "real world," you have no idea those services and offers even exist. We had a battery radio, but we could not find a single station that gave us any information (beyond school closings) that was of any assistance. We found it quite amusing when we got power to watch the news and see how much information about the storm and the recovery was available...if you had electricity to watch the news! CRAZY! WRONG!
And once again, I learned that all we really have is this moment right now. We can't change what's behind us and we can't know what's ahead of us, so we need to focus on this moment and do our best with it, enjoy it to its fullest.