We are the vulnerable. We are the one’s with little resilience, little built-in resources to defend against life’s unexpected turns. We are needy. Needy of help. Support. Understanding. Needy of someone to listen to our stories. To hear our voices. To hear our painful calling out to be seen, witnessed, heard. We are not needy in the negative, ‘he’s so needy’ kind of way. We are needy because our needs have never been met. Never been acknowledged. Never been fulfilled. We are needy because we have never known ease. Never had an answer that would stop the constant outflow of our resilience, of our capacity to help ourselves reach up to higher ground where we can shed the stale, awful smell of where we came from nothing but the clothes upon our backs and the promise of something more. We are needy of a better way, another path, another direction to find ourselves somewhere walking away from where we have always been on the bottom of our society’s need to keep us in our place to a place where we know, life is good, even when we sit and simply soak in the sunshine warming our faces.
These thoughts floated through my head this weekend as I struggled to push back my own feelings of helplessness, confusion, weariness arising from the devastating impact of the floods my city has experienced over the past three days.
I write the words and they stun me. Has it only been three days?
How can so much change in just 72 hours?
Where once, bridges spanned creeks, raging waters flow beneath their concrete girders that have been battered with the forces of natures fury hurling its might against them.
Where once expanses of lawn and wildflower strewn fields lead to the calm waters of a river quietly flowing towards Hudson’s Bay, torrents of water race to obliterate all presence of land, all memory of calm.
Where once, a roadway linked two sides of a street, two solitudes lie separated by a body of water never before seen, deep and impassable, no one knows what lies beneath its murky surface until the waters recede.
And so we wait.
We wait for the rain to stop.
We wait for the winds to quit howling.
We wait for the waters to recede, the rivers to quit flowing, the streets to empty.
We wait for the sunshine to stay, the winds to stop, the confusion to subside.
And it does.
And in its stead we are left with the devastation. We are left with the trees uprooted, the homes flooded, the lives redirected. We are left with uncertainty. With relief our homes our safe and sadness for the one’s who have lost so much. We are left feeling guilty for our relief, and relieved we are still able to help out those who have lost so much. We are left with joy no one was hurt and sorrow for those who have been impacted by nature’s fury.
We are left of the storm but never of our optimism, our compassion, our belief in the power of each of us, individually and collectively, to make a difference, to change the course of time, to redirect what has happened into a new way of being, neighbours, friends, compatriots, companions, each other’s support.
Two rivers overflowed their banks and my family, friends and neighbours have been affected. But no matter how furiously Mother Nature may unleash her best, or worst, there is one thing she cannot change. Our spirit.
We have been beaten up, but never will she beat us down.
We are Calgarians and we are proud, we are fierce and we are committed to work together, to help one another and to leave no one behind.
Thank you my friends and fellow Calgarians. Thank you for showing me every moment of these past three days what it means to be one community, one spirit, one people committed to standing together to make a difference.