Wednesday, June 26, 2013

State of Emergency

In 1998 I found my dream house, built in 1920, the first house I had ever looked at with an eye to purchasing. 

Two years later I sold it to my sister, the artist who could - and did - take the charming old lady to new heights of beauty and comfort.

We celebrated her birthday earlier this year with an intimate soiree that blended family, friends, music, poetry, tears and laughter into a sublime evening.

Last Thursday at 4 pm my sister moved whatever she could in the very limited time she had left, water lapping at her sidewalk, and evacuated the little house as the rain came down and the floods went up.

Ducks near the water
(Mike Drew / Calgary Sun)
Deer stranded on the Deerfoot
(Marni McNaughton)

Vast swaths of Calgary were declared to be in a state of emergency, along with neighbouring towns Canmore and High River.

Within walking distance of the house, water roiled down Memorial Drive ...

Memorial Drive
(Photo credit Gavin Young / Calgary Herald)

  ... and surfaced in Sunnyside ...

(Gavin Young / Calgary Herald)

(Kyle Hagen)

Power was out and the neighbourhood sealed off.

Down town Calgary was in worse shape:

(Virgin Radio)
The Calgary Sun has put together an overview showing the incredible scope of the flood - please click on this link, then scroll down a bit and start the slide show:

She was finally allowed back to inspect her house: the basement floor and the drywall have had to be removed and will be replaced. But her prescience led her to move most of her valuables upstairs and so she was spared some of the devastation that many others are experiencing.

The newscast last evening still led with pictures of destruction and detritus. Mud is everywhere. Water fills up the smallest crack.

This is also becoming the story of people who care, who want to help out. When the call for 600 volunteers went out, almost 4000 people showed up.

Calgary's mayor, Naheed Nenshi, is everywhere at once, it seems. He has a way of rallying people to come together and help each other. There has even been a t-shirt created in his honour:

A man and his siblings drove in from Saskatchewan because they have a vacuum truck and they wanted to help - free of charge.

Volunteers have arrived from Ontario.

Our family in Calgary and many of our sister's numerous friends have turned out to help her drain water and rip out drywall and restore what order they can.

People for the most part are setting aside their own needs and are working to help their neighbours, friends, communities. They are reaching out their hands to help people they don't even know.

Yesterday morning at the Manor Dad spoke about the prophet Jeremiah. The context is this: the city of Jerusalem has been taken into captivity. When Jeremiah warned his people that this would come, he was viewed as a traitor and thrown into a dank, dark well. 

The book of Lamentations has five chapters: chapters 1 and 2, and 4 and 5, deal with the city and the people and the sufferings that they were undergoing.

Chapter 3 is very personal. Here Jeremiah identifies himself with his people; in many ways, he is a picture of what God can do with His people. Jeremiah was rescued from that pit into which he had been cast (the story is told in the book of Jeremiah chapter 38 and verses 7 - 13). His personal deliverance is an encouragement to the people of Jerusalem's ultimate deliverance.

The king's servant Ebedmelech was the answer to Jeremiah's prayer. He is the one who heard of Jeremiah's imprisonment and it was he who went and informed the king of the same and received permission to go in and rescue Jeremiah. 

Dad said: You may well be the answer to somebody's prayer. Jeremiah, of course, was crying out to God for help while he was in the pit. Ebedmelech did not know that; as far as he was concerned, he just knew that injustice had been done and he sought to right the situation. 

In the same way, Dad went on, in the grace and providence of God, a word you say, a deed you render, may be an answer to someone's desperate prayer - even though you might never know it!

In these awful times of flooding in southern Alberta, and in various places around the world (I am very mindful of the current tragic situation in northern India), while I feel like wringing my hands and retreating because I don't know what to do, I am challenged by Ebedmelech, a slave, doing what he could.

Faint but unmistakable: God's
promise arches over our
Alberta sky last Friday evening
Surely no less is required of me?

Read the simple, profound words written by my beautiful sister, who is a true standard-bearer for grace amidst shock and ongoing difficulty, as she saw the river coursing down the street near her home: 

Gratitude and Love.


  1. Though it can't square the loses of individuals, something special has gone on here: people will remember the volunteers who came to help; and people will remember going as volunteers to help -- what a thing for children to see and wish they were a part of.

  2. Thank you, K. Good event, bad event, who knows? Perhaps this is just another invitation to love...


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