It has been 6 weeks since Maria plowed through our island, taking with her many hopes, dreams. Yes, we have been without power for a long time. Yes, we have been without reliable cell service and internet. Maria stripped from us what we have come to know as “normal.” Maria made us dig down and see what was in there and what we could do, what we were willing to do, and what we had to do. Maria showed us the force of nature, initially the devastating side, and then the awesome persistence and tenacity of life. We literally awoke to total devastation and not a green leaf on a tree… and only a few weeks later, everything is green and ablaze with color again. Maria turned us upside down. Maria shook us to our core. And I, for one, believe we are all so much better for it.
Maria changed our perspective on what is important. The simple act of lending a helping hand to a neighbor, sharing a meal, coming together and counting our blessings became the “important stuff” in our lives. The question that has been on everyone’s lips when they see someone they haven’t seen in a while is “How’d you do in the storm?” And the answer, EVEN FROM THOSE WHO LOST EVERYTHING, has almost universally been, WE WERE BLESSED. WE STILL HAVE LIFE. Things are things. Stuff is stuff. Maria reminded us of what is important. Maria reminded us that we can survive without power, running water, air conditioning and internet. We just can’t survive without each other.
We will rebuild, and we will be stronger. I know I am stronger. I know I can adjust and adapt if and when disaster strikes, and I know I will be OK. I know how silly and pointless it is to complain, because many, many people have it so much worse than I do, and being negative is just an impediment I am placing on my own path to growth and recovery. Any time I feel like complaining, all I have to do is look around, and see friends who have no roof, people who are displaced from their homes, others who have lost their jobs and livelihoods, and I know that could have been me…..but this time, I was lucky, and spared from those hardships. I am grateful.
Everyone on this island has “suffered” in some way from Maria. And yet, I truly feel, that each and every one of us can say, if we really think about it, that we’ve been blessed by the lessons of Maria. So as Thanksgiving approaches, I am going to be particularly thankful for Maria…
Lessons I learned from Maria:
- I am thankful that I survived that awesomely powerful storm.
- I am thankful for my friends and neighbors who lent a helping hand to me and countless others. Generosity is running rampant on this island!
- I am thankful for this break from “normal”; I have a chance to SLOW DOWN, look at the amazing stars, go to bed at dark and awaken at dawn for a change.
- I am thankful for fewer distractions, like TV, internet and phones. I can just experience what it’s like to BE and watch nature unfold.
- I am thankful to live on an island….. where the real meaning of community is so abundantly clear and powerful (and wonderful!).
- I am thankful to those in the states who have come to our island to help us.
- I am thankful that we have an opportunity to help our neighbors, those in St Thomas, St John and other sister islands recover from these storms. It is in giving and helping that we find grace.
- I am thankful for the many off-island friends, family, former islanders whose empathy for us spurred them to action…and even greatness! Our post office and the shipping ports are jammed with donations from the mainland!
- I am thankful for our customers and clients, who send us countless messages of concern and offers of help, and were (and are) patient with us during this “non-normal” time.
So, thank you Maria! We will rebuild and be stronger – and we will benefit from the lessons we learned from you.