Continuing our Moore OK story… We found no one at home when we arrived at our assigned location. Just a recently placed travel trailer in front of a home that was totaled; split down the middle and missing it’s front porch, much of it’s roof, and all the trees in it’s yard. There was also the foundation of a metal workshop where the owner previously repaired automobiles.
As I walked with Lance who lived there with his wife and four children, ages four to thirteen, he related that they had purchased the property to build their dream home, a small farm in the edge of the country, one year ago. I told him I had moved our small children and family out to a farm years ago and knew the sweat equity and work the first year involved. He turned, looking deeply into my eyes, then slowly shook his head up and down. I told him, “I’m sorry.” There followed several seconds of silence and walking, then I said, “You’re here, uninjured, and your family is OK; that’s what’s important.” It’s a truth that is never clearer than when you’re standing in the middle of rubble. It doesn’t take away the pain or awareness of the loss; but it provides a time to reflect on the true value of such things in comparison to people’s lives and relationships. We too seldom take time to meaningfully calculate the difference between the temporal and eternal? And the worth of each?
My mind flashes to the book I just finished writing, and the discussion of simplicity v.s. materialism; also simplicity as a spiritual discipline or spiritual habit practiced by followers of Jesus over the centuries. I also think of Dr. Richard Swinson’s three rules for establishing priorities:  People are more important than things.  People are more important than things.  People are more important than things.
Lance tells me he turned thirty-four the day of the tornado. Curious huh? He thought so, and he was in deep reflection about his life–something the pace of our times seldom affords. I become deeply aware of the value of such mediation in this moment, watching and listening to Lance.
He tells me his wife called shortly after the storm but it took her five hours to get through the debris before reaching their home. His children were positioned on the north and south sides of the tornado, and he didn’t know about their welfare until two or three tense hours after the storm. All had been spared.
Lance had been home alone that day, and as the monster storm approached he jumped into his nearby storm cellar, joining four neighbor kids and a seventy year old neighbor man who were already huddled inside. The storm passed over with it’s incredible winds, roar, and pressure drop. One thing Lance recounted was that the older gentlemen prayed aloud as the tornado roared over their heads, “God please spare my home.” They emerged to the utter devastation of missing and torn homes, twisted trees like fly-paper, holding belongings from who-knows-where; but with thankful, awed hearts that none of them, nor anyone they knew had been hurt or killed.
And yes, the old man’s house was the only one standing as far as the eye could see; relatively unhurt by the killing, crushing, destroying tornado.