Vox Clamantis in DesertoVox Clamantis In Deserto
A voice crying in the wilderness
A few nights ago, I read an article in Yankee Magazine that described the struggle Vermonters endured rebuilding their lives, homes and towns in the aftermath of the floods caused by Hurricane Irene. My wife and children were spending another night at my sister's house in town because she had electricity and heat. But the prospect of sleeping another night on a blow-up mattress was, for me, unthinkable. I would sleep in my own bed, regardless of temperature. It was 34 degrees outside my house, and 50 degrees inside.
I found myself lying there, three candles on a plate delicately balanced on my chest, providing just enough light to read my magazine. In the article, I read of the selflessness that has become a trademark of New England life. As soon as the rain stopped, neighbors appeared out of nowhere. A group of volunteers that were pulling up sodden floorboards were asked where they'd come from. "Ben and Jerry's" was the response from one of the men. When the author asked him what he did for Ben and Jerry's, fully expecting that he was a factory worker, the man replied, "I'm the CEO." Later that day, Gleason "Gus" Ayers, 94 years old, was evacuated from his house by his neighbors. This was the second time in his life he was evacuated from the house he and his family had lived in since 1892. When he was ten years old, selfless Vermonters rescued the boy during the great flood of 1927. He was asked how one gets through that kind of trauma. "The way you get through it is one day at a time. Stop worrying about the future. Take one day and do the best you can on it, and you know there's another day coming. That's been my philosophy my whole life."
If there was a better piece of advice for us Wiltonites, enduring our second run of Mother Nature's bad luck in two months, I haven't heard it yet. No one could see Irene and our "Arbor-geddon" Halloween snow storm coming.
Yet I have seen New England selflessness on display here as well. Last Saturday, with the snow and wind beginning to howl, and reports (a little too late) predicting downed trees and power lines, 450+ volunteers packed the common room at the Wilton Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church complex on Wolfpit Road. Volunteers from 10 faith communities, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, came together under the banner of Stop Hunger Now. The volunteers prepared over 76,000 meals, more than the original goal of 73,000 meals, enough to feed 200 malnourished children in poor nations for a year. A year!!!!
The message delivered through their selflessness is simple: we are blessed to have all that we have, and as tough as things may seem, we have the capacity to give more, and therefore we will give more. In this time of struggle and relative inconvenience in our lives, let's let the actions of the those in Vermont after the floods caused by Irene, and the effort of those who turned out to Stop Hunger Now, inspire us to do more and to give more, thanks to the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.