After several weeks, I am at home again, in my undamaged, safe and sound house just outside of Lyons, Colorado. The electric was restored a week after the devastating flooding began on September 11th, and the phone and internet finally came on line this week. Little did I know when I posted my last blog entry that “there’s no place like home’’ would take on such deep poignancy only two days later.
The main highway that connects my road to anywhere was destroyed by the unprecedented rainfall and flooding. Fortunately, there is an ancillary vein, a little loop called Apple Valley Road, which bypasses the collapsed section of highway and allows us passage in and out from our road up into the hills. We pass through checkpoints manned sometimes by the National Guard and other times by the local sheriff. Curfew is 10 PM. It is surreal.
Each time I wind my way along what was once an almost unimaginably sweet stretch of tree-lined road next to a happy little river I pass the remains of homesteads. There are mudflats in place of houses and gardens; piles of debris stories high line the road where trees, ripped whole from their moorings by the river raging wildly out of its banks, once stood. Driving by I glimpse dressers and cribs and bed frames, refrigerators and desks, a piano, a car nose down buried to its doors and everywhere carpet, piles and piles of carpet. Today I passed a woman walking on the road cradling an infant in a snugli. She looked dazed and so vulnerable in the midst of all the destruction. I wanted to turn around and see if there was anything I could do, but the road is narrow and partially washed out and there was no safe place to make the turn.
I find myself weeping almost every time I make this trip but I can’t always catch the emotion. Tears just start streaming while I drive by, silent witness to the overwhelming devastation. Reflecting now, I am more aware of what it is – at least in part. It is a profound grief that is stirred in me as I slowly and almost reverently drive by what has become a cemetery of sorts; mudflats and debris fields that are the burial grounds for lives before the flood. My heart is broken open by the loss that these ones are enduring. I weep for these unknown others, who of course are not other at all. And that’s the deeper message for me.
Once out of the valley and passing through town, signs begin to appear, and they, too, make me weep, but for different reasons. The community of Lyons is now a Family” one proclaims. Another asserts “We will rebuild.” Further down the road, back onto a major thoroughfare past the checkpoints, a plywood placard has been erected carrying a simple message in orange spray-paint: “Hang in there.” And another, scrawled in black marker on white poster-board, fading now after being there for weeks: “Stay strong Lyons.”
The sign makers, and so many others, my own neighbors included (another story), are the ones who will “reconstitute the world” still reeling from the disaster. Their kindness and courage, strength and hope move my heart so deeply; it is almost more beauty than I can bare. I want to be one of them. Now that I am so gratefully living “there’s no place like home,” safe and with no daunting clean-up in front of me, I need to find ways to be part of that recovery process. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I trust that guidance will arise in the coming days. Beloveds, savor your home – at all the levels!