The devastation left in the more northerly islands of the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian this week has been unspeakable. The images that have been flooding social media (perhaps an unfortunate, yet apt, choice of verb) have torn at our hearts.
People take different lessons from natural disasters. Some will say a deity is angry (a strange notion and a stranger way for said deity to express it) and that we need to appease it. Others will say it’s a side-effect of climate change (which would be difficult to prove) and that we should take better care of the planet (which is always a good idea). There may be countless other lessons people will take from the hurricane.
But here’s one to consider: life is fragile.
I remember a number of years ago being given a tour of the beautiful home of some friends. In their daughter’s bedroom there was a small plaque that simply said, “The best things in life aren’t things.”
How true that is!
In recent years, as I have reflected on vacation times, I’ve discerned that my favourite part of vacation has been conversations with people; that’s a big deal for an introvert! But more than bringing Stuff home, more than seeing great sights, what has been most impactful is encounters with people.
When someone is in a tragic accident, or when a loved one has died, we often read social media posts to the effect of, “Hug the people you love.”
For those folks in the Bahamas, and in other places severely affected by this hurricane, that phrase may have more meaning than many of us will ever know.
Stuff is helpful. Things are meaningful. But none of it matters as much as people. Life is fragile.
“O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
mere mortals that you should think about them?
For they are like a breath of air;
their days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144.3-4, NLT).