Monday, October 9, 2017
The Greatest of These . . . .
This past Saturday, as part of a larger effort mounted by the Rotary Clubs in this part of Florida, eight members of my club here on Sanibel ventured down to Bonita Springs to help out. We were assigned to do debris removal and preliminary demolition of a home that had suffered extreme water damage. Our task was to cart out all the ruined furniture, clothing, curtains and personal effects, and pile them by the side of the road for pick-up and removal. And then, under the guidance of a volunteer crew chief, we were to remove the baseboards and all the no-longer drywall in the house up tot he four-foot mark. "Be careful," said the crew chief, "especially if you have thin soles. There are bound to be nails."
The owner of the house, who we will call Maria, and her young adult daughter, were present to salvage what they could and to give us guidance as to what we should or should not throw out. As Maria watched, often in tears, we hauled out most of her belongings, now ruined by mold and mildew. We were told to set aside a few items that had been especially high up. The almost new refrigerator and stove were still being paid for, so those were kept because Home Depot need to see them. Hopefully to replace them with new ones. Ironically, one of the damaged books that went into the trash was called The Elements of Feng Shui. Another was a Spanish language New Testament.
As we neared the end of the time removing household items, I noticed mounted near the top of the door frame going out of the house, a small hanging, with a tribute to Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe)--and hanging from the same nail, a rosary. I went to find Maria, and brought her into the house and asked if she wanted to keep the hanging and the rosary.
"Oh yes," she said, as she started to tear up. I took down the rosary, and as I handed it to her, she looked at me and said, "My granddaughter got this for me in . . . ." She hesitated and turned to her daughter. "Jerusalem," said her daughter. "Yes," said Maria, "Jerusalem. I love it." Then turning to the crucifix, hanging on the other side of the door frame, she said, "I really love Jesus."
Having lost almost everything she owns, Maria reminded me with her simple words, that there are some things no flood can wash away; there are some things that no hurricane can destroy, that faith, and hope and love, do indeed abide.
We had been warned by our crew chief to be careful if we had thin soles. What he didn't say, was "Be careful if you have thin souls."
Thank you fellow Rotarians, for being love in action. Thank you Maria, for granting us the privilege of learning from you in a most powerful way.
(Photo: Sanibel-Captiva Rotarians in front of Maria's home)