flooded with love

August 28th, 2017

A few weeks ago I went to see the movie Dunkirk. I had heard something about it, how real and human and decent it was. It was real all right—being relentlessly terrifying, conveying the experience of being trapped, desperate and abandoned.

It’s about a 10-day period during the Second World War when Allied forces retreated to the northern coast of France to evacuate from a “colossal military disaster.” Except there wasn’t really an evacuation. Hundreds of thousands of bedraggled troops massed on the beaches awaiting rescue by naval ships that were blasted to bits either before or right after they were loaded with evacuees. After two days, the British weren’t inclined to send more assets, as they say, into that certain fate. The ships stopped coming.

Knowing nothing of the history, I watched this doomsday unfold in a mounting panic as if I, too, were waiting waist deep in water for a rescue that would never come. But it came, after an eternal two hours, the rescue came and left me flooded with relief on a sun-soaked sidewalk outside the multiplex.

****

After I’d spent 23 of my best years living in Houston, I came to appreciate what those years were about. They were about work, because you come to Houston to work. Sure the place can be good and plenty fun, but it’s not a cushy life, not carefree. You’ve got the heat, you see, which is not really the heat, but the humidity. And you’ve got the rain, a whole lot of it whether you’re ready or not, with skies that rupture into Biblical floods that swallow half your block and all your car before you can conjure a superior second thought. And in the middle of all that, you work.

But the work you’ll do in Houston is not just what’s visible up top. It always seemed to me that it was underneath. Soul work, you might say. Because hard places make you dig deep and find what matters in your own self. Houston is not really like some other cities in Texas. It’s a working-class town. A wide open town. With people from everywhere doing everything. I used to get asked what made Houston different. Well, I’d say, in Houston nobody asks you who your daddy is.

****

So the call went out to everyday folks back home to muster fishing boats, pleasure boats, life boats and any other passable craft to come to the aid of their unlucky and afflicted kinsmen. It was a crazy, reckless, impossible thing to do, but these neighbors didn’t think twice. A hastily assembled fleet of more than 800 little boats rescued 338,226 soldiers from Dunkirk.

And yesterday a man from Texas City, launching his boat into a flooded Houston underpass, made it plain as day: I’m gonna try to save lives.

When the skies are really dark you can see the truth at the very bottom of things. There’s only one side. We are already united. We love one another. And right where you are with whatever you’ve got, you try to save lives, don’t you?

Contribute to the Greater Houston Community Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

4 Comments »

  1. This is just beautiful. ” When the skies are really dark you can see the truth at the very bottom of things ” Yes. And sometimes the life we save is our own ♡

    Comment by Bonnie — August 29, 2017 @ 4:09 am

  2. What a lovely post. I too went to see Dunkirk and it’s constant stress of one step forward, two steps back. But the overall story of true goodness and what that looks like reminds us to be on the watch for it because it can be found in the greatest as well as the simplest gestures. We just need to open our eyes and sometimes look hard, squinting to block out the meanness that spews from the White House to streets of anger in Charlottesville. In this moment in Houston, that true goodness is taking over and filling the gaps of hatred that was trying to block the light of duty, charity and compassion so desperately needed now. Namaste.

    Comment by Holly — August 29, 2017 @ 4:12 am

  3. Thank you. I love living in Houston … even under water. No place like it.

    Comment by Snap — August 29, 2017 @ 4:27 am

  4. Continue Under All Circumstances. ~Katagiri Roshi

    #LOVE

    Comment by Erica — September 1, 2017 @ 10:17 am

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