There is a new way of greeting people here in south Louisiana. Invariably, when we see people in the elevator, at the grocery store or gas station, our first words, our greeting these days is, “How did you do?” We all know what we mean.
We’re referring to “The Great Flood of 2016
,” the unnamed storm, the flood
that took 1,000 years to make its way here. In a matter of just two or three days, south Louisiana was pummeled by more rain than California gets in four years, or so I’ve read. As my coworker, Mike Bertaut calculates, this area got 6.9 trillion gallons of rain in that time period, enough to fill the Louisiana Superdome from the field to the top of the dome more than 10,000 times.
There are lots of creative ways to say we got a shitload of rain, and there was nothing we could do about how or where Mother Nature chose to water our lawns. Or fill our homes with flood water.
I was in the elevator yesterday and greeted a woman with the customary post flood greeting, “How did you do?” She gave me a half smile and slightly bowed her head.
I knew her answer before she spoke. I recognized the slight dip of her head, the guilty bow, the nod to Fate, because I have done it numerous times of late. She was one of the “lucky ones.” Just like me.
“I made out well,” she said. “I am blessed.” I nodded in agreement and walked away thinking about her parting words. “I am blessed.”
I had read an article earlier in the week in a Christian blog (I am sorry I can’t remember the name of it or the author) that had caught my attention. In it, the author mentioned how people should re-think how they use the term, “I’m blessed,” in their everyday speech when expressing casual gratitude.
He made the argument that when we say “I’m blessed,” (with riches, healthy life, beautiful home) it can create a sense of separation with others. While acknowledging God’s blessing, these statements raise the question, “What about those who aren’t blessed with a fat bank account, or good health, or even a flood free home?” Are they not in God’s favor, some might ask?
I thought about this as I walked to my car. I thought about the recent flood victims, too. How horrible it would be for them—on top of the devastation of reordering their lives—if they were to think for one moment that they were not favored by the heavens.
I don’t believe that people are blessed or cursed by the heavens. I do believe however, that Fate, Mother Nature, might occasionally hook up and work in tandem to create chaos.
The purpose of that, I know not. But I’d like to believe there is something purposeful, meaningful, about the pain and unearthing so many here in Louisiana are experiencing.
But that’s another blog. Right now, I’m wrestling with the concept of lucky and unlucky, knowing I’ve been on both sides of that coin. For now, when someone asks “How did you do?” I’ll just respond with a grateful smile and say, “Fine. I did just fine, this time.”
As of August 23, 2016, the number of flood damaged homes is reported at 60,000, while more than 106,000 residents and households have registered for FEMA aid. There are still approximately 3,000 people in shelters and 13 people have died as a result of the flooding. People who want to support flood victims can donate here: Together Baton Rouge (100 percent of donations go directly to flood victim support) https://togetherbr.nationbuilder.com/donate Baton Rouge Area Foundation (Louisiana Flood Relief Fund) http://www.braf.org )
(If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity and grace, particularly at midlife, check out my book Tao Flashes, available on Amazon.)