In the first set, buildings. Barns, houses, a shed. Twisted steel, crumpled metal and roofs ripped and flung, lying scattered over the farmyard.
In one of them, a semi, pulling in at dusk. “The semi’s come for the cattle,” was the message just beneath. And then later, “All 700 have been moved to neighboring farms.”
Two homes, all those outbuildings, a shed and 700 cattle. Damage. Loss. Broken things and chaos. Devastation come when clouds opened up and hell rained down, tornado shaped and vicious.
Checking in to follow the story, I see another photo. In this one, an infant lies asleep, lovingly swaddled in a blanket of white, dark head encircled with a girlish band. Her aunt (a friend) is holding her, looking into her tiny, perfect face. Auntie’s eyes…oh, Auntie’s eyes hold love. Hold tenderness. Hold sadness. Hold things that words can’t say, for Darling’s gone.
I read the words, then, that frame the story being told in the heartbreaking photo. “My sweet Lindsey Jo…Just two days ago I was dreaming of all the fun things we would do together and the memories we would make. Sweetheart, we will have so much fun together in Heaven. Jesus, please take care of her amazing parents. They love her so much!!!”
A tornado of a different kind has hit. Heartbreak, loss and broken things. And o’er the fertile soil of loving hearts, down deep where dwell the sweetest dreams, a trail of debris. For death has come, and hope, for now, lies shattered.
So much loss. Depths of sorrow. And in the aftermath of the storm, a single word forms, comes first to mind, then heart and onto lips. “Emmanuel.”
Oh, Emmanuel. When the clouds open up and rain hell down, Emmanuel. God is with us.
When the fierce winds blow, bringing trouble, bringing ruin, Emmanuel.
When dreams break instant into a million-million pieces, Emmanuel. God. Our God, He is with us.
In yesterday’s power outage, we brought it up–a lantern from the recesses of the basement. And turned it on. In noonday light, it shone feeble. Shone pale. But coming home last night to a darkened house, we lit it again. And light, clear, bright and true shone forth, illuminating our home, driving back, pushing away the night.
Emmanuel. In the soul’s darkest night, this one thing remains: Emmanuel. God is with us. And the light (His light) will shine forever and ever and ever. Amen.