I recently read a speech by John Gardner titled "Personal Renewal". It is interesting. The link is embedded in the title if you want to read the entire speech. He concluded with the following paragraph, and I thought it was particularly powerful:

"Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you."

These last few days have been challenging and, well, sad. If you're like me, there's a tinge of helplessness that bothers you. I want to do what I can to help those who have lost so much get everything back, but I also don't want them to have to go through this at all. But, in the aftermath of the storm, there have moments of incredible inspiration as the donations have poured in, volunteers have lined up to help, and neighborhoods have pull together to build back what was once there. We have an incredible staff and live in an incredible community.

Even more, lately, I don't think you could say that we've been living in a particularly positive and optimistic climate in our country. There's been so much derision, so much division - storms in their own right. I've often wondered about our society, if we've lost our way a bit. However, in this storm, what's stood out to me is the overwhelming outpouring of support for the storm's victims. The empathy, resilience, sacrifice, and love for others has been undeniable. My somewhat wavering confidence in our society has been renewed. Deep down, people do care about each other; we can be empathetic; we are resilient; we will not sit and do nothing when other people, even people we don't know, are hurting. Like Gardner said, "The ingredients are there." We just have to look within and reach out to others.

Storms of all kinds bring with them unfortunate affects, but they also bring opportunities for renewal and opportunities to build - build back what was broken and build meaning in our lives.


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