When Home takes a Hit

This blog and my business are about interior design. Design is what I do. However, for me design has always been about so much more than pretty homes and things. Design is about creating spaces that support the activities of your life. Home is our safe space that we come to after a hard day at work or school. But what happens when home takes a hit? When devastation becomes knocking on your door?

2 weeks ago, the region I live in was hit with severe flooding. We had weeks of intermittent heavy rains. Eventually the ground just could not bear anymore and the rivers and creeks overflowed their banks.

Our Flood Experience

My small community was no exception. The banks of the creek in our backyard were visible from our house. Sewage backed up in our basement and our nearby storage units were under 4′ of water. Nearby neighbors had basements full of water.

We’re still recovering and we’re not alone in that. Many locals have some sort of flooding story to tell in recent weeks. Water in the basement, sump pumps malfunctioning, needing to tear out carpet etc.

Some nearby communities experienced complete devastation.

When I visited one of those communities recently to help with cleanup, we were sent to a home. When we arrived, the homeowner said “Why did they send you here? There are so many homes with worse damage than ours!“. Yet, someone put them on the list and deemed them worthy of support that day. We got to make the tiniest dent in their clean up efforts and hear their story. It’s all too personal to share here, but I’m grateful to have bore witness to all that they’ve experienced.

Processing it all

Someone on Facebook wrote about the vulnerability of all of her home’s possessions “laid bare” for the world to see. I felt that. We’ve accumulated so much. As we were cleaning out our storage units filled with slippery mud, the objects inside held less appeal and possibility. Most of it ended its life in the landfill.

Our mild flood experience has gotten me thinking about how I want to travel lighter in this world. Less stuff, less busyness with things that don’t matter. I wrote about the Beauty of Less recently. This experience has reminded again that it’s time to prioritize letting go of more.

It’s hard to know what to say after devastation hits home. So many have lost their homes, churches and schools. The destruction is so widespread that neighbors become the people in nearby communities rather than the house next door.

So we pray. We listen. We help.

This Liturgy from Every Moment Holy (Vol 1) Pocket Edition by Douglas McKelvey feels appropriate. The full liturgy is too lengthy to publish here in its’ entirety. I had a very hard time paring it down – it’s all so very good! You can download the full copy here for free.

A Liturgy for those who Suffer Loss from Fire, Flood and Storm

O Christ in Whom Our Treasures are Secure

Fix now our hope in You.

In light of all that was so suddenly lost, O Lord, In light of all we had gathered but could not keep, comfort us.

Our nerves are frayed, O God. Our sense of place and permanence shaken, so be to us a foundation.

We were shaped by this place, and by the living of our lives in it. By conversations and labors and studies, by meals prepared and shared, by love incarnated in a thousand small actions that became as permanent a part of this structure as any nail or wire or plank of wood.

Our home was our haven, and now we are displaced and faced with the task of great labors – not to move forward in this life, but merely to rebuild and restore what has been lost.

Have mercy, Lord Christ.

O Father, we have suffered a hard loss, and one that we cannot endure alone. May we emerge in the months to come – even in our frailty – stronger than before, more deeply rooted in you, and more wrapped in the necessary arms of community. Give us humility to receive that which we need and cannot repay, when it is offered by others.

We thank you for the presence of friends who would share this burden of grief simply by showing up in the midst of it, and grieving with us.

For anything spared and salvaged, we give you thanks. Let us see that even in disaster, there is grace still at work, for you know the limits of our hearts.

Let our rebuilding be a declaration that a day will come when all good things are permanent, when disaster and decay will have no place, when dwellings will stand forever and when no more lives will be disrupted by death, tragedy, reversal or loss.

O Lord, that in the process of planning and rebuilding we might also streamline our lives for stewardship, for service, and for hospitality in the years ahead.

Comfort us, O Lord, in the wake of what has overtaken us. Shield us, O Lord, from the hurts we cannot bear. Shelter us, O Lord, in the fortress of your love.

Shepherd us, O Lord, as we wake each new morning, faced with the burdens of a hard pilgrimage we would not have chosen. But as this is now our path, let us walk it in faith, and let us walk bravely, knowing that you go always before us.